[31 Days of Horror Part VI: Jason Lives] Day 31 – Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

Director: Joe Chappelle

Cast: Donald Pleasence, Paul Rudd, Marianne Hagan, Mitchell Ryan

Screenplay: Daniel Farrands

87 mins. Rated R for strong horror violence, and some sexuality.

 

Well, it’s the end of October, and we find ourselves at the end of 31 Days of Horror. I’ve enjoyed it very much, and I hope you have as well. Like any October ending, we find ourselves at Halloween, and today we’ll be talking about The Curse of Michael Myers, the sixth and arguably most controversial in the series. Let’s get started.

It’s been six years since Jamie Lloyd, Michael Myers, and the Man in Black disappeared from Haddonfield, and Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence, The Great Escape, Fatal Frames) has very much retired, but his old friend from Smith’s Grove, Dr. Wynn (Mitchell Ryan, Gross Pointe Blank, TV’s Dharma & Greg), informs him that he has suggested Loomis as a replacement, and now the body of Jamie Lloyd has been found, and Tommy Doyle (Paul Rudd, Ant-Man, Between Two Ferns: The Movie), survivor of Michael’s killings from back in 1978, has discovered that Jamie had been pregnant and given birth, and MIchael’s after the baby, being the last-known family he has. Loomis, Tommy, and the baby must now contend with the dangerous Michael and the insidious Man in Black who both want the baby.

If you read that synopsis and you’re asking yourself, “Wait! Isn’t this supposed to be a Halloween movie?” then don’t worry. You are in the right place. Much like Jason Goes to Hell, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers was made to expand the mythology of Michael Myers by connecting all the previous films (minus Season of the Witch) and answer the questions that the previous film asked while forging a path for future sequels. Well, that’s a tall order, and it’s the most likely reason why this movie turned into such a bonkers disaster.

The screenplay, Frankensteined together but credited to just one writer, Daniel Farrands (The Amityville Murders, The Haunting of Sharon Tate), tried to give a good answer to the mysterious ending to Halloween 5, one that the writers of that film weren’t even sure of, and so the Cult of Thorn was established, a wacko group that protects Michael and helps him accomplish his task of murdering his family members. That’s probably the least-strange new element to the film. The mystery of the Man in Black is given here too, but you probably won’t care about the answer, and then there’s the whole maybe-possible-incest thing in the script that’s not just strange and gross but also really stupid, but hey, in the age of Game of Thrones, maybe this subplot works. Probably not.

Donald Pleasence does solid Loomis work again on his last film appearance as the character, and Paul Rudd’s debut performance is weird enough to fit the crazy plotline of this entry (though he’s still a bit much), but there isn’t much of what I’d call acting in the film. I can’t say I blame a lot of the actors, though, because they signed on for one movie and ended up making another, using a script that was referred to as incomprehensible.

There is a Producer’s Cut of the film that fixes some of the narrative problems but not all, compiled from footage that was shot and cut after a bad test screening, and it’s not a better version, just a different one. It also introduces more subplots that aren’t ever tied up. Safe to say that, no matter which version you see, it’s a mess of a film.

I cannot defend Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. As a child, it actually scared the hell out of me. It’s a more cruel version of Michael Myers, and for that, it affected me a lot as a kid, so I will say that part of me prefers this one to the fifth film, but they are both among the bottom of the barrel of the Halloween franchise. It’s sequels like this one that make that whole retcon thing that Halloween 2018 did make sense.

 

1.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

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.

For my review of Dominique Othenin-Girard’s Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, click here.

[Stephen King Day] The Mangler (1995)

Director: Tobe Hooper

Cast: Robert Englund, Ted Levine, Daniel Matmor

Screenplay: Tobe Hooper, Stephen David Brooks, Harry Alan Towers

106 mins. Rated R for gory horror violence and language.

 

I always had a fondness for the adaptation of Stephen King’s The Mangler, a strange film about a possessed laundry-folding machine, so I took a chance to revisit the film this year in honor of Stephen King’s birthday. In hindsight, I wish I had kept this one buried in my memory.

The laundry press at Gartley’s Blue Ribbon Laundry service has been acting funky. First of all, a woman named Sherry, niece to owner Bill Gartley (Robert Englund, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Nightworld: Door of Hell), cuts her finger on a lever, and later that same day, the machine goes haywire and traps Mrs. Frawley, an older worker, in its safety shield, dragging her through the machine, crushing her body in the process. John Hunton (Ted Levine, The Silence of the Lambs, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) and his brother-in-law Mark (Daniel Matmor, Hit It, A Dark Truth) are on the case, investigating the accident, but what they discover is more horrifying than any normal work-related problem. The laundry press is possessed by a demon, and it’s out for more blood.

The Mangler is not a good movie, and at 106 minutes, it’s quite a slog of a movie. This was one difficult sit-through that I did not remember or expect. I recall more recently reading the short story from King, and the added mythology and plot in this adaptation don’t add much of merit to the film. In fact, having really liked King’s story, which, like so many, offered an EC comics or Twilight Zone-style to them, would have made a great movie in the right hands, but it seems now that Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Poltergeist) was not the right person for this job. There’s so many strange changes made to the story that benefit neither the adaptation nor the overall feeling and tone of the movie.

Robert Englund is horribly miscast, appearing almost like a version of Freddy Krueger that had survived to old age. He brings a nose-twisting grossness and annoyance to Gartley, but then you have Levine, who struggles with some of the more cringe-worthy dialogue here (he starts swearing at a possessed ice box as one point in an absurdly laughable moment taking itself too seriously).

There are several times in the film that something interesting comes up, and it almost seems that Hooper is righting the ship, only for it to devolve into a wholly unlikable mess. I really liked the setting mostly being placed at the Blue Ribbon Laundry, and I think the setting is hyper-unclean in a way that I would have been able to believe. I really like the production design and the overall look of the laundry press. I even kind of the dug the finale, though it has aged very poorly, but even after all that, the film sort of limbers on past the point of my minor enjoyment.

The Mangler was advertised as the product of King, Hooper, and Englund, three horror geniuses, but I doubt anyone involved in this film would have been happy to have their name associated in such a way, especially King, who wrote a solid if somewhat absurd short story but had no hand in the film. This is one of those adaptations I would caution even King fans to shy away from. You have better things to be doing…like the laundry, for example.

 

1.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive, click here.

For my review of Tobe Hooper’s Salem’s Lot, click here.

For my review of Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist, click here.

For my review of Tobe Hooper and John Carpenter’s Body Bags, click here.

[31 Days of Horror 3] Day 14 – In the Mouth of Madness (1995)

inthemouthofmadness1995a

Director: John Carpenter

Cast: Sam Neill, Jurgen Prochnow, Julie Carmen, Charlton Heston

Screenplay: Michael DeLuca

95 mins. Rated R for images of horror, and for language.

 

Most people who know me know of my love for Halloween. It’s my all-time favorite horror film, but in general, my all-time favorite horror director is John Carpenter. Barring The Ward, there isn’t a single film of his that I wouldn’t watch, and when he hits it, he knocks it out of the park. In the Mouth of Madness is a great example of John Carpenter knocking it out of the park.

inthemouthofmadness1995b

Acclaimed horror novelist Sutter Cane (Jurgen Prochnow, Das Boot, Hitman: Agent 47) is missing. Arcane Publishing is after Cane’s latest manuscript, and they hire insurance investigator John Trent (Sam Neill, Jurassic Park, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) to go after Cane. When Trent is almost killed by a crazed maniac wielding an axe, he begins to discover that there is a lot more hiding in Cane’s books than just words. His search brings him to Hobb’s End, the fictional setting for several of Cane’s novels, a place thought not to exist, and Trent sees that Hobb’s End is very real, and it houses an evil that is more powerful than anyone could have known.

Halloween is a perfect slasher, but In the Mouth of Madness is a perfect study of the human psyche and the power of a story. It is a rich, complex tale about Sutter Cane (who bears more than one similarity with horror novelists Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft). It is an examination of popular culture and its crazed obsession with horror. It’s a look at John Trent and the fragility of the mind (another popular element in Lovecraft’s).

The performances from Neill and Prochnow are great. The two actors have terrific chemistry even though they share very few scenes in the film. Charlton Heston (Ben-Hur, Planet of the Apes) even appears as Arcane Publishing director Jackson Harglow to add gravitas to the picture.

There are multiple allusions to Lovecraft and King, starting with the opening framing device, often used by Lovecraft in his storytelling. There is talk of the Old Ones, and in fact passages of Cane’s stories actually come from Lovecraft’s own work. From King, there is the style of his novels, the New England setting, and the undying fandom around his next novel.

inthemouthofmadness1995c

In the Mouth of Madness isn’t an easy film to find, but if you can, do so. You will find yourself on a most interesting journey through the mind. It is topped off with great performances and gorgeously disturbing visuals from master of horror John Carpenter, with a shockingly unusual ending to tie it all together. This movie is a one-of-a-kind experience for horror fans all alike.

 

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

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

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

31 Days of Horror Part II: Day 27 – Vampire in Brooklyn (1995)

 vampireinbrooklyn1995a

Director: Wes Craven

Cast: Eddie Murphy, Angela Bassett, Allen Payne, Kadeem Hardison, John Witherspoon, Zakes Mokae, Joanna Cassidy

Screenplay: Charlie Murphy, Michael Lucker, Chris Parker

100 mins. Rated R.

 

Many horror directors attempt to cross with comedy at some point, and for me, there are two infamous examples of note: John Carpenter’s Memoirs of an Invisible Man and Wes Craven’s Vampire in Brooklyn. I actually really enjoyed Carpenter’s film, and when I originally saw Vampire in Brooklyn several years back, I liked it too. Sadly, on my most recent viewing, my opinion has shifted drastically.

vampireinbrooklyn1995b

Maximillian (Eddie Murphy, Beverly Hills Cop, A Thousand Words) is the last of a line of vampires from the Caribbean. In order to save his bloodline, he needs to find a female born from a native vampire he knew. Detective Rita Veder (Angela Bassett, TV’s American Horror Story, Meet the Robinsons) is that woman, working for the NYPD in Brooklyn. After siring Julius Jones (Kadeem Hardison, White Men Can’t Jump, Made of Honor) to be his personal servant, Maximillian sets out to find his destined love in the urban jungle.

Wes Craven (Scream, A Nightmare on Elm Street) and Eddie Murphy famously fought on set about the tone of the film, and it is the paramount reason why this movie failed so much. Craven wanted a horror film with comedic elements, and Murphy wanted a comedy with horror elements. The clash was the downfall of the film.

Murphy’s Maximillian didn’t have great voicework, and the choice to do his signature multiple roles thing by playing a few other characters that Maximillian disguises himself as didn’t work nearly as well on second viewing.

Craven’s abilities as a director were really called into question during the making of this film, and his work suffered tremendously from studio interference and the uneasy set. It’s sad, because the overall idea seems like a lot of fun. I really like Kadeem Hardison’s portrayal of the decrepit Julius Jones.

I also don’t think the casting of Bassett works in the film. She has the ability to act, but this just isn’t the movie for her.

vampireinbrooklyn1995c

I’m happy to see that Craven was able to recover from a film like Vampire in Brooklyn with solid works like Scream and Red Eye, but Eddie Murphy, who blamed everyone else for making a film he knowingly wrote and acted in disappoints me. He claimed that he only did the film was so that he could finish his contract with the studio and focus on other works. I call bullshit, Eddie. You failed but you couldn’t just accept it.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

[Happy 20th Birthday!] Congo (1995)

congo1995a 

Director: Frank Marshall

Cast: Dylan Walsh, Laura Linney, Ernie Hudson, Grant Heslov, Joe Don Baker, Tim Curry

Screenplay: John Patrick Shanley

109 mins. Rated PG-13 for jungle adventure terror and action and brief strong language.

 

The late Michael Crichton was known for his ability to write science fiction as science fact. When Jurassic Park was released in 1993, everyone wanted on the Crichton train, even causing Steven Spielberg’s colleague and friend Frank Marshall (Eight Below, Arachnophobia) to take on a weaker work called Congo and make it essentially like Jurassic Park with apes. There’s only one hitch: the two stories are nothing alike, and Congo burned for it.

congo1995c

Dr. Peter Elliot (Dylan Walsh, TV’s Nip/Tuck, Secretariat) wants to gets his ill ape Amy back to the wild, but without funding, he and his partner Richard (Grant Heslov, Good Night, and Good Luck, The Monuments Men) are out of luck. But when their plight comes under the attention of Herkermer Homalka (Tim Curry, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Burke and Hare), who may have motives of his own, Peter, Amy, and Richard are on the way to the Congo. Along the way, they meet up with Dr. Karen Ross (Laura Linney, The Truman Show, Mr. Holmes), who is heading in the same direction in search of answers to the disappearance of someone close to her.

Let me just start out by saying that there are some great elements in this film that aren’t handled correctly. Ernie Hudson (TV’s Oz, You’re Not You), for example, gives a fantastic performance as Captain Munro Kelly, a man assigned to get Peter and Amy to their destination safely. Unfortunately, we also get Dylan Walsh, an uncommanding lead, Laura Linney as an unlikable and poorly written character, and Joe Don Baker (GoldenEye, Mud) in one of the most laughably horrendous roles in screen history. I can live with Tim Curry’s hilariously cheesy work as Homalka, but even he doesn’t fit here.

congo1995b

The screenplay is poorly put together and it leads to an uneven film that presents too much substance bloating a film with silly and convoluted plot threads. Jurassic Park, this is not. Not in the slightest.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

[Happy 20th Birthday!] While You Were Sleeping (1995)

whileyouweresleeping1995a

Director: Jon Turtletaub

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Bill Pullman, Peter Gallagher, Peter Boyle, Glynis Johns, Jack Warden

Screenplay: Daniel G. Sullivan, Fredric LeBow

103 mins. Rated PG for some language.

 

Well, While You Were Sleeping is 20 years old. Has it aged? Yeah, kind of.

whileyouweresleeping1995b

Lucy (Sandra Bullock, Gravity, The Heat) is a ticket collector who is in love with a man she’s never met. His name is Peter (Peter Gallagher, TV’s Covert Affairs, American Beauty), and that’s about all she knows. When Peter falls onto the train tracks and goes comatose, Lucy accidentally gets into a situation where Peter’s entire family thinks she is his fiancé. As Lucy’s story gets deeper and deeper, she gets closer and closer to Peter’s brother Jack (Bill Pullman, Independence Day, The Equalizer), but how will she right the ship?

Jon Turtletaub (National Treasure, Last Vegas) has directed some diverse films. While You Were Sleeping is pretty odd itself. The film was rewritten from a time when Lucy was a man in love with a woman who goes comatose. How sexist is it when a man can’t do it but a woman can? Good question, but I digress.

whileyouweresleeping1995c

Sandra Bullock does fine work as female Lucy here, and it aided by a quirky cast of family members like Peter Boyle (TV’s Everybody Loves Raymond, Taxi Driver) and Jack Warden (12 Angry Men, All the President’s Men) who help to keep the film lighthearted so you don’t realize that Lucy is a glorified stalker. The movie is cutesy enough and actually kind of works even if you do take time to think about it. It mostly comes undone by the end, but for a while, I think While You Were Sleeping is a film that could be enjoyed by both sexes on movie night.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[Happy 20th Birthday!] Bad Boys (1995)

badboys1995a

Director: Michael Bay

Cast: Martin Lawrence, Will Smith, Tea Leoni, Tcheky Karyo, Theresa Randle, Joe Pantoliano

Screenplay: Michael Barrie, Jim Mulholland, Doug Richardson

118 mins. Rated R for intense violent action and pervasive strong language.

 

I just watched Bad Boys for the second time. The first viewing I had was sometime after the sequel, Bad Boys II, was released. I was upset I hadn’t seen the original film and therefore could not witness the explosive spectacle of a film, so I changed that. I watched it. I somehow remember the film being…how do I put it, less terrible?

badboys1995c

Bad Boys is a buddy cop film about partners Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence, TV’s Partners, Big Momma’s House) and Mike Lowry (Will Smith, Men in Black, Focus). Burnett is a married man with a couple kids who dreams of less complicated days. Lowry is a newly rich single man who likes to get down and dirty with the ladies. When one of Lowry’s special ones is shot down in a hail of gunfire, her friend Julie (Tea Leoni, TV’s Madam Secretary, Deep Impact) goes to Lowry for help. She ends up believing that Burnett is Lowry and seeking out protection from him. As the two cops play some stupid version of Trading Places, there is also a bad guy doing…something. This is Bad Boys.

Bad Boys is the feature film debut of director Michael Bay (Transformers, Pain & Gain), and it also gives some of his less-awful work, though he still valued explosions over character development (what develops a character more than almost dying constantly, right?).

The two leads have enough chemistry to really build a franchise akin to Lethal Weapon and Beverly Hills Cop, but the script merely bastardizes the two series by ripping them off too much instead of forging a new path for itself, and the mistaken identity Freaky Friday conceit that envelops the film falls flat almost instantly and is drug along for the entire film’s runtime instead of abandoned early on like it should have been.

The villain Fouchet (Tcheky Karyo, TV’s The Missing, The Patriot) is a cardboard cutout with little memorable features. I just watched it and I can’t even really recall his purpose. He is neither fleshed out enough to feel real of sinister enough to be terrifying.

badboys1995b

Michael Bay’s Bad Boys is a bad film. I feel like Lawrence and Smith could play with their buddy cop relationship well if only the script was serviceable enough to give them room to play. For the most part, their talent is completely wasted and overshadowed by the “Things Blowing Up” route Bay’s directing takes them.

 

1.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For my review of Michael Bay’s Transformers, click here.

For my review of Michael Bay’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, click here.

For my review of Michael Bay’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon, click here.

For my review of Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction, click here.

[Happy 20th Birthday!] Tales from the Crypt presents Demon Knight (1995)

talesfromthecryptpresentsdemonknight1995a

Director: Ernest R. Dickerson

Cast: Billy Zane, William Sadler, Jada Pinkett Smith, Thomas Haden Church, CCH Pounder, John Kassir

Screenplay: Ethan Reiff, Cyrus Voris, Mark Bishop

92 mins. Rated R for gore, horror violence, sexuality and language.

 

Only a series like Tales from the Crypt can make a joke about going postal into a plot point. Seriously.

talesfromthecryptpresentsdemonknight1995b

It’s been twenty years since the first in a planned (but cancelled) trilogy of Tales from the Crypt films was released in theaters. Demon Knight is the story of an age-old battle between good and evil, following Brayker (William Sadler, The Shawshank Redemption, Machete Kills), a man who has lived far past his years, as he is hunted throughout the forgotten roads of western civilization by a being known only as The Collector (Billy Zane, Titanic, The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption). Brayker is in possession of a mystical relic, a key, and The Collector will stop at nothing to retrieve it. As Brayker holds up in an old church turned into a motel, owner Irene (CCH Pounder, TV’s NCIS: New Orleans, Avatar) fears he is dangerous and accidentally brings The Collector right to their door. Now, Brayker, Irene, and the rest of the motel residents, including ex-con Jeryline (Jada Pinkett Smith, TV’s Gotham, Collateral) and Roach (Thomas Haden Church, Sideways, Heaven is for Real), a guy just looking for a good time, to stop The Collector from unleashing hell on Earth in this full-length tale told by the menacing Crypt Keeper (John Kassir, Pocahontas, The Smurfs 2).

talesfromthecryptpresentsdemonknight1995c

It is tough to judge a film based on campiness when camp is the overall goal in mind. The movie is goofy, but has a solidly enjoyable screenplay, though it gets a little muddled at the end. Some of the rules created don’t exactly make sense (kind of like Gremlins, you don’t really need to care). The performances are all loopily over-the-top, sometimes too much so. This whole movie exists to service the fans, and half of them weren’t even serviced all in all. I happened to enjoy it, but I agree that it may have worked better as a longer episode rather than a feature. I will say, though, it’s still a pretty damn fun time.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑