[31 Days of Horror Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan] Day 19 – Parents (1989)

Director: Bob Balaban
Cast: Randy Quaid, Mary Beth Hurt, Sandy Dennis
Screenplay: Christopher Hawthorne
81 mins. Rated R.

Can any of us really trust our parents? Especially if Randy Quaid (Brokeback Mountain, All You Can Eat?) is one of them?

Set in the 1950s, this satire looks at the Laemle family. On the outside, they look like the picture perfect family, with father Nick (Quaid) in line for a new promotion housewife Lilly (Mary Beth Hurt, Lady in the Water, Change in the Air) the perfect little cook. The Laemle parents have a secret that even son Michael is unaware of, though, and he is soon to discover that his family’s taste is a little more bloodthirsty than most.

I really wanted to love Parents. I remember seeing the poster and thinking that this was right down my alley, but unfortunately, even with the gifted talents of director Bob Balaban (Fishkill, Georgia O’Keefe) is a bit of a dud. Don’t get me wrong, the film has its strong points, but it wrestles over tone and intention throughout.

First off, I really enjoyed the unhinged performances by both parents, particularly Quaid. It seems like this film, Vacation, and Independence Day all perfectly captured the complicated actor’s skills. He’s unusual, funny, and unnerving throughout. Mary Beth Hurt has more of a switch to her performance, where she is able to shift from loving and caring to psychotic and calculating.

I also really enjoyed the dreamlike quality to the film, as if Balaban watched a few David Lynch films and said, “I can do that.” Some of the film evokes Lynch’s Blue Velvet with the shine of Americana covering up a dark and seedy underbelly, and that’s where the film’s strength is.

But sadly, Parents just doesn’t work because it can’t figure out what kind of movie it wants to be, and this struggle with identity caused confusion for this audience member. At first, I thought it would be satire, but it’s not that. It’s not really a horror movie either, and I can’t in good conscience call it a comedy, because it just isn’t funny. Without the horror and without the comedy, the satire has nothing to feed off, and it ends up starving the film of any real entertainment.

Ugh, I really wanted to like Parents. The concept and logline are both fitting, it has a strong poster presence and it starts out relatively strong, but it becomes apparent all too quickly that this is movie simply does not work. The script isn’t very strong (rough draft, anyone?) and it doesn’t have a unified vision. Those two failures stop the movie dead in its tracks, and it never recovers.

-Kyle A. Goethe

[31 Days of Horror Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan] Day 17 – Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat (1989)

Director: Anthony Hickox
Cast: David Carradine, Morgan Brittany, Bruce Campbell, Jim Metzler, Deborah Foreman
Screenplay: John Burgess, Anthony Hickox
104 mins. Rated R.

Fun fact: I buy a lot of movies. Oftentimes, I’ll buy movies I haven’t even seen. Cheap multipacks can be the bane of my existence. While hunting down a copy of Ghoulies III (yeah, that’s right), I finally found it in a 6-pack of movies on DVD. In the same pile, I found another 6-pack and recognized Blood Diner, so I nabbed that 6-pack (I mean, c’mon, it was five bucks), and I just recently opened it to investigate and watch them. I knew nothing about Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat, but the little poster on the front cover of the movie pack looked awful. I expected to like this movie the least, so now that I’ve seen it, is it the worst?

There’s a little town called Purgatory that you won’t find on a map. In fact, many do not even know it exists, and that’s just the way the residents want it. The town is packed to the brim with vampires. These creatures of the night have worked very hard to avoid the need for blood to the point that they’ve synthesized a blood alternative, and they utilize other tactics like heavy sunblock and large sombreros to keep out of the sun’s harmful rays. Under the direction of their leader, Count Mardulak (David Carradine, Kill Bill vol. 2, Death Race 2000), the town seems, on the surface, rather peaceful and sleepy, but there’s trouble brewing in Purgatory, and some of the residents don’t want a blood substitute. As tensions rise in town, the descendant of a legendary vampire hunter has arrived, stake in hand.

The concept for Sundown is rather awesome. It may not be the most original idea, but turning a classic vampire tale on its head with elements of science fiction (before that was popular) and the modern western seems to work to its benefit. I love the wide cast of characters, which make a town like Purgatory feel lived in. Director Anthony Hickox (Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth, Knife Edge) infuses his town and characters with enough style and flair to make them stand on their own and be entertaining in the soap-opera-y narrative, and his storytelling has a bit of a bite (pun not intended, but do as you will) to create a unique vampire tale in the time of so many others like The Lost Boys and Near Dark, and while the finished film won’t hold a candle to either, enough of it works.

The cast holds a lot of this together, led by the consitently scenery-chewing David Carradine. For being the lead actor in the film, we don’t get a lot of Carradine in this, but when he’s onscreen, he’s a delight to watch. Bruce Campbell (Bubba Ho-tep, TV’s Ash vs Evil Dead) matches his intensity quite well as the latest in a long line of Van Helsings. Campbell has a way about him that he works in just about every film he’s in by essentially playing a variation of the same character, and yet, directors that hire him know what they’re getting. Campbell even plays very nicely with Deborah Foreman (Real Genius, Grizzly II: Revenge) as Sandy, a local server in Purgatory who takes nicely to Campbell’s Van Helsing.

The film’s biggest problem is not the insane amount of subplots bouncing around, nor is it the hammy dialogue and acting (in fact, these elements work well in this specific film). No, the biggest problem is that it seems like, as the film finds itself working to the finale, it loses some steam, as if Hickox and co-screenwriter John Burgess ran out of ideas as the vampire portion of the film almost completely disappears in favor of the western elements. The story and climax that we get at the end felt like a production that ran out of money, and that could very well be the case, as this was the last film produced by Vestron Video as the company struggled in the landscape of late 80s cinema. The ending we get isn’t bad, but it’s an obvious loss of steam in an otherwise very entertaining and odd movie.

Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat is goofy and glorious fun. Anthony Hickox understood his vision and put it forth rather than giving viewers something they’d seen before, and even though the narrative sputters a bit as it comes to a close, there’s something rather special here, and a self-awareness that drives most of the thrills. Like a more satirical precursor to True Blood, Sundown is a vampire movie working toward the future of the subgenre, and we’re all the better for it. Seek this out if you can find it.

-Kyle A. Goethe

[31 Days of Horror Part VII: The New Blood] Day 5 – Society (1989)

Director: Brian Yuzna
Cast: Billy Warlock, Devin DeVasquez, Evan Richards, Ben Meyerson, Concetta D’Agnese, Ben Slack
Screenplay: Rick Fry, Woody Keith
99 mins. Rated R.

Well…that was strange.

Today, we are going to talk about the horrors of Society. No, not the actual horrors of actual society, but…well, the film is a biting satire, so I guess we will discuss some of the actual horrors of actual society while discussing the horrors of the film Society. Are you all still with me? Okay, close enough…

Bill Whitney (Billy Warlock, Halloween II, Lovely But Deadly) is kind of the odd one of the family. His mother, father, and sister are all socialites looking to maintain a status in the upper class of Beverly Hills life. Billy, while being relatively popular, isn’t all that interested in status. He feels out of place in his family, in his relationship, in his home. Worse, he’s suffering from a bad case of paranoia. He can’t shake this feeling that there’s something horribly wrong with everyone around him. It isn’t until his sister’s ex-boyfriend approaches him with evidence that he begins to see the truth about his family, school, and world. Billy’s in for a rude awakening.

It’s hard to dance around the story of Society without flat-out ruining the reveal, which is the best part of the film, and it’s also the reason for it’s popularity as a cult classic. When Brian Yuzna (Bride of Re-Animator, Return of the Living Dead 3) released the film, he expected it to do better than it did. Society ended up having a pretty solid release in the UK, but here in the US, it was shelved for three years before being dismissed almost entirely in 1992. It has since developed a cult following as an underground classic. Still, with all that, the film has its problems.

Billy Warlock was rather uneven as Bill Whitney. I liked him initially, but he takes some directions with his performance as the film hits its third act before recovering as the film reaches its climax. There are times he handles himself well, and others where I wasn’t sure what he was trying to convey.

Thankfully, his supporting cast seems to aid in creating the tone that Yuzna is going for. Evan Richards (Altered States, Twilight Zone: The Movie) is perfectly silly as best friend Milo. Ben Meyerson (Funny People, Speed 2: Cruise Control) is the embodiment of every jock 80s asshole as Ferguson, the popular party-boy. Devin DeVasquez (House II: The Second Story, Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV) is steamy to the max as the sensual and clever Clarissa, who begins to take a fascination in Bill. They all add to an aura of satire as Yuzna drives his message home.

As far as Yuzna’s intention, I’m not big on when he goes for comedy when his strengths lie in horror. This is true of Society as well. There’s some truly gruesome imagery on display here, and Yuzna elected to focus on that imagery over a compelling story, all of it leading to an ending that is bonkers and a film that oftentimes feels like a dream or perhaps a nightmare. When the comedy comes fluidly from the horror, it works, but sometimes Yuzna elects for some comedic moments that feel forced.

Society is a film with a heavy theme, one that, at times, feels like it is trying to beat you over the head with it. Rarely do I ever see a film with a theme taken so literally as the one that appears in Society, where the focus is on the differences in class. I can’t deep dive too much because I want you to see it. For all its faults, Society is just so much fun. It’s weird, gross, shocking, and very enjoyable. It also swings for the fences, which is commendable. The creature effects are great, the imagery is dreamlike, and the gore is on high alert. Society is quite good.

-Kyle A. Goethe

  • For my review of Brian Yuzna’s Silent Night Deadly Night 4: Initiation, click here.
  • For my review of Brian Yuzna’s Bride of Re-Animator, click here.
  • For my review of Brian Yuzna’s The Dentist, click here.

[31 Days of Horror Part VI: Jason Lives] Day 27 – [Happy 30th Birthday!] Shocker (1989)

Director: Wes Craven

Cast: Michael Murphy, Peter Berg, Cami Cooper, Mitch Pileggi

Screenplay: Wes Craven

109 mins. Rated R.


From 1987 to 1989, four horror films were released featuring killers who come back after dying in the electric chair. This was the last.

Brutal serial killer Horace Pinker (Basic Instinct, TV’s The X-Files) has been apprehended and is sentenced to death via electrocution, but on the fateful day, electrical issues and strange rituals combine to produce a hell of an accident, though Pinker still fries. Now, Jonathan Parker (Peter Berg, Very Bad Things, Mile 22), a young man who was able to assist in the capture of Pinker, discovers the murderer to be very much still active, living on as an electrical current able to inhabit other humans and use their bodies for vengeance. The only skill Jonathan has is in the form of strange visions accompanied by the ghostly visage of his dead girlfriend. Now, Jonathan will have to man up and stop Pinker from continuing his murderous rampage, or it’s lights out for him…

I’ve spoken about this before, but I firmly believe that Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream) was a great director. That’s not exactly a hot take or anything, so here’s one: I don’t think he was a very good writer. Sure, he wrote some amazing work. He was great with ideas in the same way that George Lucas is. I just don’t think he really was able to get those ideas to work on the page. That’s not a slight or anything, but look at a film like Shocker, which has some really cool ideas but the story is a bit of a mess. There’s all these random things happening in the screenplay that are never followed up on. Why does Jonathan have visions of Horace? How exactly do they work? Why do all of his friends and his coach immediately believe his batshit theory? Why does his dead girlfriend keep coming back to help him? What exactly did Horace do to come back from the dead? He’s seen performing some sort of ritual, but we never hear about it afterward.

Beyond all that, the film is far too similar to A Nightmare on Elm Street. There are elements of dreaming and nightmares and dreamscapes in the film that feel a little too familiar. For the most part, these elements just made me wish I was watching Nightmare instead. Both Nightmare and Shocker have similar opening titles, disbelieving fathers, and power through dreams.

Mitch Pileggi is batshit as Horace Pinker. He’s all the parts of Freddy Krueger that became more prominent in the later sequels, especially the attempts at humor. I like how visceral he is, how brutish, but he just didn’t work in the way I hoped he would.

Speaking of batshit crazy, let’s talk about the television scene. It’s near to the end of the film, where Jonathan and Horace end up in a television set and are fighting across the different channels. It sounds cooler than the finished product, but it kind of fails where the fight sequence in They Live succeeds.

So there you have it. There are better Wes Craven films, but I have the feeling that some people will love how terrible this movie is. It just didn’t work for me. There’s too much all-over-the-place in this movie and I couldn’t connect with any of it. Just didn’t work for me, dog.



-Kyle A. Goethe



For my review of Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, click here.

For my review of Wes Craven’s Vampire in Brooklyn, click here.

[31 Days of Horror Part VI: Jason Lives] Day 8 – Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

Director: Rob Hedden

Cast: Jensen Daggett, Scott Reeves, Peter Mark Richman, Kane Hodder

Screenplay: Rob Hedden

100 mins. Rated R.


When the eighth Friday the 13th film was announced, the first poster was released depicting the “I Love NY” slogan with Jason Voorhees busting through it. The New York Tourism board sued to get the poster taken down. There are probably some rare prints of these posters out there, so if anyone’s looking for an early Christmas gift for me, just saying…

Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder, Daredevil, Victor Crowley) is still out there in Crystal Lake, still alive, waiting for his chance to return to the surface, and when two young lovers get their boat anchor caught in the lake, it lets Jason loose. Now unleashed, Jason hitches a ride on a boat headed for New York City, and along the way, he’ll spend his time doing his favorite thing: killing attractive teens.

Let’s address the elephant in the room: Jason doesn’t take a lot of Manhattan in this film. He takes a boat for about an hour of the film’s runtime, and he takes Manhattan, which is mostly Vancouver, for the final third. I think the expectations of a film subtitled Jason Takes Manhattan conjures up images of Jason slaying his way across the city. Now, without a doubt, the shot of Jason Voorhees in Times Square is pretty impressive, but it’s the only moment that feels like Jason Takes Manhattan.

None of the teens in this film are very memorable, and that includes Rennie (Jensen Daggett, Major League: Back to the Minors, Telling You), the lead. She’s a very relaxed and unremarkable lead character without much to root for. The rest of the cast is filled with machete fodder, with the exception of the always fun-to-watch character actor Peter Mark Richman (Agent for H.A.R.M., After the Wizard) as Rennie’s Uncle Charles, who also happens to be a teacher chaperoning the boat trip. Richman plays the unlikable Uncle Charles to pretty solid results.

But hey, at least the final product is incredible, right? No, it’s not. Not really, but it isn’t a colossal failure either, and maybe that’s a lot of the problem. There’s just no soul to this movie. It should be full of weird flavor and enjoyable sequences, but it’s very hollow. Think about it. Jason in Manhattan should be so much fun, but it doesn’t have any tone at all. It just is…and that’s a problem.

Jason Takes Manhattan is neither the best nor the worst of the Friday the 13th franchise. It’s just kind of forgettable. Outside of the one true moment of Jason Voorhees standing in Times Square (and, to be fair, Kane Hodder’s return as Jason should be all the more celebrated because he’s just damn good), there’s just nothing special flowing through the veins of this movie. It’s an empty shell, and that’s a damn shame.



-Kyle A. Goethe



For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

For my review of Sean S. Cunningham’s Friday the 13th, click here.

For my review of Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, click here.

For my review of Steve Miner’s Friday the 13th Part 2, click here.

For my review of Steve Miner’s Friday the 13th Part III, click here.

For my review of Joseph Zito’s Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, click here.

For my review of Jack Sholder’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, click here.

For my review of Danny Steinmann’s Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning, click here.

For my review of Chuck Russell’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, click here.

For my review of Tom McLoughlin’s Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI, click here.

For my review of Renny Harlin’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, click here.

For my review of John Carl Buechler’s Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, click here.

For my review of Stephen Hopkins’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, click here.

[31 Days of Horror Part VI: Jason Lives] Day 6 – A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)

Director: Stephen Hopkins

Cast: Robert Englund, Lisa Wilcox, Kelly Jo Minter

Screenplay: Leslie Bohem

89 mins. Rated R.


I remember trying to convince my mother to buy me a VHS of A Nightmare on Elm Street 5 at the Kmart. She must’ve eventually caved (she didn’t mind any horror in the house as long as there was no nudity) because I ended up watching 20-30 minutes of the film each morning before school that week, and it was my first involvement with the franchise. I became enamored with the VHS tape, watching almost on repeat for days, and I started looking anywhere for a copy of the first film (eventually succeeding at a local garage sale). Does that mean it holds a special place in my heart? Yes. Does it mean that I cannot see any problems? No.

Dream Master Alice (Lisa Wilcox, The Church, TV’s Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure) is graduating from high school, and her life seems to be falling together finally, but she keeps on having nightmares. How can this be? She defeated Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund, Nightworld: Door of Hell, The Midnight Man) a year ago, locked him away for good, but he is still getting through. When Alice learns that she’s pregnant, she begins to put the pieces together, but now she has to protect her friends and her baby as Krueger sets his sights on a new generation.

My wife had seen the first four Nightmare films, and I was so excited to show her this fifth film given my history with it. She did not care for it, and the more I watched it, the more its flaws showed. I started to see things that didn’t work as well this time around. The film is clearly coming down from peak-80s Freddy, but director Stephen Hopkins (Predator 2, Race) infused that tone with more gothic horror elements. The gothic stuff works way better than the 80s stuff, which has now become quite comedic-looking and goofy.

The writing of the film leaves quite a bit to be desired. Some of the characters outside of Alice aren’t as well-developed. Her friend Greta is one-note (she’s a model who just wants to eat normal!). Other friend Mark feels like he’s being set-up nicely but the route his story takes is rather anticlimactic. The one area that the script truly excels is how they bring Freddy back. Coming off the dog-piss-lights-afire return of Nightmare 4, this is a truly inventive return that gives Freddy a purpose and new plan. All in all, the screenplay is a bit all over the place. I’m placing the blame on the studio as opposed to screenwriter Leslie Bohem (Taken, TV’s Shut Eye), as there was a revolving-door of screenwriters both before and after Bohem even though there was only one credited writer.

The performances are hit-or-miss for me outside of the returning players in Alice, Krueger, and Dan. The way Lisa Wilcox continues to develop the character of Alice works really well. In this installment, Alice grows out of the Alice in Wonderland allusions of the previous film and completely becomes the Dream Master.

The Dream Child is a wildly-inventive addition to the mythology that finds itself with mixed results. It’s more in tone with the fourth film than anything that came before, so if you enjoyed The Dream Master, I think you’ll find a lot to love with this one, but it’s probably not going to win you back. Robert Englund and Lisa Wilcox play well in this sequel, but it’s really hit-or-miss.



-Kyle A. Goethe



For my review of Sean S. Cunningham’s Friday the 13th, click here.

For my review of Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, click here.

For my review of Steve Miner’s Friday the 13th Part 2, click here.

For my review of Steve Miner’s Friday the 13th Part III, click here.

For my review of Joseph Zito’s Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, click here.

For my review of Jack Sholder’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, click here.

For my review of Danny Steinmann’s Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning, click here.

For my review of Chuck Russell’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, click here.

For my review of Tom McLoughlin’s Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI, click here.

For my review of Renny Harlin’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, click here.

For my review of John Carl Buechler’s Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, click here.

For my review of Stephen Hopkins’s Race, click here.

[31 Days of Horror Part V: A New Beginning] Day 31 – Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

Director: Dominique Othenin-Girard

Cast: Donald Pleasance, Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Beau Starr, Wendy Kaplan, Tamara Glynn

Screenplay: Michael Jacobs, Dominique Othenin-Girard, Shem Bitterman

96 mins. Rated R.


After being essentially rebooted (before it was a thing) in 1988, the Halloween franchise appeared to be going strong again. So it’s a strange happening that, in 1989, the series died again, only to be bought up six years later. So what happened? Why did Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers effectively rekill the franchise? How did this happen? Let’s take a look.

After a horrific encounter one year ago, Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris, Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, Victor Crowley) is now mute and living in a children’s hospital. Michael Myers, however, has escaped after falling down a mine shaft and falling into a coma, where a homeless man finds him and fixes him up. When Michael awakens, though, he again goes on a murderous rampage, all the while looking for niece Jamie.

There are a lot of reasons that Halloween 5 is responsible for rekilling the franchise. First and foremost, this fifth installment is the worst one of the five thus far. There are so many mistakes made, some large, some small, and the film just stumbles through these bad decisions.

Let’s start with the elephant in the room: the addition of the Man in Black. Throughout the film, we get glimpses of a mysterious man walking through Haddonfield, searching for Michael. We never get a real answer to what he is (until the sequel was forced to), and Don Shanks, who played Michael, also did a lot of work as the Man in Black. Here’s the thing: he was told that there was a possibility that the Man in Black was a relative to Michael, but as it turns out, the producers had no idea who the Man in Black really was! Was the intention to just figure out this major plot point later? Seriously? This was something that inevitably had to fixed in the sequel (and that explanation turned a lot of fans away and rekilled the rekilled franchise again), but even for this film, having this awkward character introduction and his eventual play into the main film’s story lead to an unsatisfying ending.

The look of Michael is really odd as well. A new version of the mask was created to fit Don Shanks’s head, and it really doesn’t look good at all. In fact, it’s flat-out awful looking and cheap at that. His look was further muddled by an accident in filming where Donald Pleasance (The Great Escape, Fatal Frames) hit Don Shanks with a 2×4 and broke his nose. The mask needed to be fixed to fit over a nose bandage. This made the thing look downright ridiculous and it’s pretty noticeable throughout the finished film.

As far as the actual film goes, most of the potential victims are downright unlikable, from Tina (Wendy Kaplan, Summer Dreams: The Story of the Beach Boys, The Labyrinth), teenage friend to Jamie, to Tina’s friend Samantha (Tamara Glynn, Daddy and Them, Life on the Flipside). You kind of want them dead.

The film is directed towards these attractive teenage potential victims instead of to Loomis, Jamie, and Rachel like it should. These characters are the heart of the story and they are where the interest lies. This ridiculous subplot about a mute Jamie doesn’t work, it just kind of annoys, which I don’t blame on Danielle Harris. She just isn’t given anything to do until the very end and it doesn’t amount of much of a character arc.

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers takes all the good will of the previous installment and shatters it. It is universally disliked as a sequel by franchise fans, and it is partly responsible for the weird direction the series had to take to justify it. This is one I don’t usually pay much mind to, and I don’t think its a place for casual viewers to go.



-Kyle A. Goethe



For my review of John Carpenter’s Halloween, click here.

For my review of Rick Rosenthal’s Halloween II, click here.

For my review of Tommy Lee Wallace’s Halloween III: Season of the Witch, click here.

For my review of Dwight H. Little’s Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, click here.

[31 Days of Horror Part V: A New Beginning] Day 24 – The Fly II (1989)

Director: Chris Walas

Cast: Eric Stoltz, Daphne Zuniga, Lee Richardson, Frank Turner, John Getz, Harley Cross

Screenplay: Mick Garris, Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat, Frank Darabont

105 mins. Rated R.


As some of you are aware, David Cronenberg’s The Fly is one of my all-time favorite horror films. The sequel, The Fly II, has a steep ladder to climb, an impossible feat. But the question is whether or not The Fly II can be capable enough to stand on its own, and I think that, as a sequel, it actual is passable enough.

When Veronica Quaife dies giving birth to her child with Seth Brundle, the child, a victim of his father’s experiment, is taken in by Anton Bartok (Lee Richardson, Network, Prizzi’s Honor) and his company. The boy grows at an accelerated rated. and celebrating his fifth birthday, Martin Brundle (Eric Stoltz, Pulp Fiction, Class Rank) is a fully-grown man with extreme intelligence and a need to learn. Martin searches for a cure to his mutation. At the same time, Bartok is searching for the missing piece in Seth Brundle’s telepod experiment. When Martin discovers that Bartok is not interested in helping him, he must venture for his answers with only the help of fellow Bartok employee Beth Logan (Daphne Zuniga, Spaceballs, Those Left Behind).

The Fly II is nowhere near as strong a film as its predecessor. First-time director Chris Walas (The Vagrant), who worked on the creature effects for the original film, stepped behind the camera this time around. For a first film, The Fly II could have been so much worse. The faults here come with pacing, performance, and the ending.

The Fly II has some real pacing issues. It feels like a three-hour movie at times. I feel like the lack of a throughline direction from Walas is a big reason why this sequel suffers. It feels very unfocused at times, meandering about in search of meaning.

The performances from Stoltz and Zuniga are very underwhelming. Stoltz seems childlike, as he is still, but he is just uninteresting. Zuniga, though, is just dull. Richardson’s Bartok isn’t an interesting villain, but he is evil enough to suffice. I just missed the characters from the first. I feel like having more of a presence of Seth and Ronnie, or hell, even Stathis (John Getz, The Social Network, Trumbo), who appears in the sequel in a cameo.

The ending is pretty amazing, except that it half-sucks. There’s an ending for our main characters that is extremely underwhelming, Then, there’s a super-dark stinger before the credits that I loved. The entire third act goes insane, a larger-scale version of the original, and I liked where it was heading, but it just didn’t go far enough.

But there are some really cool moments of the film. The Fly II is at its best when it forges a new path rather than retreading its far superior parent. Walas kills it again with the incredible makeup effects. The attempts made at adding to the mythology are mostly successful, and I have to say, I did enjoy most of the film.

The Fly II is an inferior sequel, but it gets about as good as it was ever going to get after losing Cronenberg. It’s a fun 1980s camp horror sequel that does try to reach the stars even if it misses often enough.



-Kyle A. Goethe



For my review of David Cronenberg’s The Fly, click here.

[31 Days of Horror Part V: A New Beginning] Day 3 – The Phantom of the Opera (1989)

Director: Dwight H. Little

Cast: Robert Englund, Jill Schoelen, Alex Hyde-White, Bill Nighy, Terence Harvey

Screenplay: Duke Sandefur

93 mins. Rated R.


I can’t tell you how excited I was to finally get a copy of The Phantom of the Opera in my hands. This film is widely available, but I’ve never brought myself to actually watch it for some reason until my colleague Marc lent it to me. I was so excited to finally see Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Nightworld) portray the Phantom. Boy, was I wrong.

Christine Day (Jill Schoelen, The Stepfather, When a Stranger Calls Back) is an opera singer living in Manhattan who has just found a rather unique piece of music to sing at her upcoming audition. She discovers that the writer of the piece, Erik Destler (Englund), was likely responsible for numerous slayings a hundred years earlier, but she decides to sing the piece anyway. At the audition, she is accidentally knocked unconscious by a falling sandbag and awakens to find herself in London in 1885. Now, Christine is stuck in 1885 being followed by a mysterious admirer, and the body count is growing.

I wanted to love this movie, and I was so disappointed. First of all, you cannot call your film a modern retelling of The Phantom of the Opera if almost the entire film takes place in the 1800s. I wanted a Phantom set in the 1980s. This film seemed very promising at the beginning only to veer off into a direction we’ve kind of seen before.

Robert Englund performs well at Erik even if he isn’t given nearly as much to do. I think the work he had done playing Freddy Krueger prepared him to be under layers of makeup and still show off his chops. I wasn’t all that impressed with the rest of the cast and I didn’t feel like any of them were given the ability to shine due to the fluff that fills the film.

Another thing too that kind of takes us into potential spoilery territory: there’s a sequence after the climax of the film that doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t do anything to push the narrative forward, it left a bad taste in my mouth (even after a disappointing 90 minutes), and overall just ended the film on a sour note.

The Phantom of the Opera is a rather large disappointment. This film just could have been so much more and I really pined for it, but as soon as the audience is introduced to this time-travel element, the film goes absolutely nowhere. It’s truly frustrating especially after the inspired decision to use Englund in the lead. This is one adaptation that will not earn any love.



-Kyle A. Goethe


For my review of Dwight H. Little’s Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, click here.


For more Almighty Goatman,

[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 26 – Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out! (1989)

Director: Monte Hellman

Cast: Richard Beymer, Bill Moseley, Samantha Scully, Eric DaRe, Laura Harring, Elizabeth Hoffman, Robert Culp, Richard C. Adams

Screenplay: Rex Weiner

90 mins. Rated R.


I’m probably going to get some shit for a Christmas movie right now. Whatever, I just wanted to see this one.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out! continues the B-Movie horror franchise with Ricky Caldwell (Bill Moseley, The Devil’s Rejects, Alleluia! The Devil’s Carnival) in a coma. Overseeing his health is Dr. Newbury (Richard Beymer, West Side Story, TV’s Twin Peaks), who has been using blind psychic Laura (Samantha Scully, Best of the Best, Bloodsuckers) to access Ricky’s mind for…reasons. Laura is successful at awakening Ricky, though she doesn’t know, and she leaves to celebrate Christmas with her brother Chris (Eric DaRe, Starship Troopers, Ted Bundy) and their Granny (Elizabeth Hoffman, Dante’s Peak, TV’s Sisters). But Ricky is soon on her tail, and Dr. Newbury is on his. And…yeah, you know, it really does get very convoluted for a shit sequel.

Of the first three films in this franchise, Better Watch Out is the worst. It doesn’t really make sense. There’s this whole thing with Ricky where his brain is encased in a dome outside his head and he kind of reminds me of Chop Top mixed with Krang. The inclusion of a blind psychic is weird, especially because her powers kind of work but then don’t work, and his motive for chasing her down is altogether absent.

In fact, this third entry feels so wasted for the kind of talent involved. You have three David Lynch faves in Beymer, DaRe, and Laura Harring (Mulholland Dr., Inside), who plays Chris’s girlfriend Jerri. Robert Culp (Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, TV’s I Spy) appears as Lt. Connely, a cop on the case with Dr. Beymer. And I cannot forget the wonderfully talented Bill Moseley (who is famed far too little for his genre work) as Ricky. This film had the talent in front of the camera. It just didn’t have it behind nor on the written page.

Better Watch Out is fun for its kitsch but the movie is quite bad, but going into this franchise, you also know what you are getting into, so at least it isn’t surprisingly bad. If you sat with it this long, I guess the third installment is still worth your time, but this is one Christmas gift worth regifting.



-Kyle A. Goethe


For my review of Charles E. Sellier Jr’s Silent Night, Deadly Night, click here.

For my review of Lee Harry’s Silent Night, Deadly Night 2, click here.

For my review of Steven C. Miller’s Silent Night, click here.


For more Almighty Goatman,

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