Bride of The Horror. The Horror. Round 1: Little Evil

Back in October of 2015 I plowed through a heap o’ horror movies and scribbled my thoughts concerning them on this here internet. I had intended to repeat that feat in 2016, but, you know, something something something life. If I recall correctly, October ’16 was The Month of the Free HBO Now Preview and I was caching up on Game of Thrones, leaving no free time for movies.

Well, the GoT catch-up is caught, ain’t nothing free about HBO Now now, and I’m back on the horror horse. Like some kind of horseman . . . maybe . . . I don’t know . . . a headless one? Yeah. A headless horseman. Has anyone ever made a movie about that?

Anyway, we kick off Bride of The Horror. The Horror. with Little Evil, a Netflix exclusive from this very year of 2017.

Or, the perfect horror movie gateway drug.

The setup is simple. Adam Scott marries Evangeline Lilly, then flails at bonding with her creepy son, whom Adam begins to suspect might just be the Antichrist. So: The Omen, played for laughs, with a few visual gags from other horror classics thrown in. (Poltergeist, Children of the Corn . . . you’ll know ‘em when you see ‘em.)

Little Evil is one of those almost-but-not-quite movies. Almost creepy, but too obvious in its callbacks to surprise you. Almost hilarious, but more in a smiles-and-occasional-chuckles than an actual belly-laughing way. Inside the wrapper of all the horror tropes Little Evil employs is a nugget of the very real, awkward, sometimes terrifying, sometimes funny effort that goes into bonding with one’s stepfamily. But it plays those tropes too safely to get to a moment of real empathy for the characters. It’s entertaining but not quotable, a little touching without actually meaning anything.

Essentially, your enjoyment of Little Evil is going to depend on how much you like watching Adam Scott reprise his role from Parks and Recreation as the good-hearted guy who is perpetually befuddled and/or overwhelmed by the craziness of the world around him. I for one like him as that character, so I didn’t mind seeing it brought back for this movie. Nothing wrong with an actor leaning into his strengths—Jason Bateman seemingly puts out three or four variations on Michael Bluth every year, and no one’s complaining about that.

(Also, Clancy Brown makes an appearance as a preacher who might [surprise!] not be as virtuous as he seems. Always good to see the Kurgan in action.)

Here’s the beautiful thing about Little Evil, though: it’s a perfect gateway drug to real horror movies. Say you’ve got a significant other who doesn’t care for the genre. Show them Little Evil. It’s never actually scary, its humor is fairly safe, and it’s kind of sweet in the end, a nice family comedy built around satanic rituals. If your SO enjoys Little Evil, maybe then you explain how it’s a comedic take on the The Omen and hey, why don’t we watch that for comparison’s sake? And from there you might as well watch the other “Satan is really into kids” classics from the Seventies . . . and before you know it, y’all are watching Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist and, voilà, you’ve transformed your boo into a horror fanatic!

Everyone wins: you. Your SO. Satan. Good times for all!

One Man’s Theory on the Meaning of “The Last Jedi”

With the reveal of Episode VIII’s title (and that dope red type), we’re all having fun speculating on exactly what the linguistically ambiguous The Last Jedi means. This goes so far as examining the title as it’s rendered in other languages to try to discern whether the Jedi in question is singular or plural. From what I’ve heard so far, the German and Portuguese renditions indicate a single Jedi.

I think and kind of hope that means Luke is the last Jedi. As in the last last Jedi.

Here’s my theory: Luke considers himself the last Jedi not only in raw fact but because he wants to chart a new path for Rey. Something along the lines of, “I’ll be the last of the Jedi because you’re going to be something greater.” And a new order of Force users is born without all the baggage of the Jedi/Sith wars that have roiled the galaxy for centuries.

Why do I think/hope that?

Continue reading

The Horror. The Horror. An Inventory of Iniquity

thehorrorthehorrorIn October 2015 I decided to pick up a habit I’d tried out years ago but abandoned: watching a bunch of horror movies during All Hallows Month, then spilling my thoughts like so much viscera. I intend to do this again in 2016 and beyond. This post will serve as a roundup of links to the movies I’ve discussed. It will grow, year by year, until every nook and cranny of the horror universe has been plumbed.

NOTE: These aren’t spoiler-free reviews. (They’re not even reviews so much as a meandering inventory of opinions and anecdotes.) Which is to say, if you haven’t seen one of these movies and don’t want anything spoiled, might want to skip these pieces till you’ve watched said film.

Herewith, the list of movies, arranged alphabetically and citing the order in which I wrote about them plus the year each was released.

The Babadook (#5, 2014)
Dawn of the Dead (#8, 1978)
Demons (#2, 1985)
Friday the 13th, Part III (#1, 1982)
Halloween (#10, 1978)
Hard Rock Nightmare (#7, 1988)
Housebound (#9, 2014)
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (#3, 2010)
White Zombie (#6, 1932)
Zombeavers (#4, 2015)

The Horror. The Horror. The Final Round (of 2015): Halloween

halloween posterIt’s time to wrap up this October horror-thon by climbing aboard the mother ship: Halloween. I could probably write 20,000 words about this movie, but I’ll try to keep this coherent.

Let’s start with the historical record. Halloween was mostly jeered in its initial run. It was considered tawdry, exploitative trash. A cheap knockoff of Psycho. A tasteless, offensive exercise in vicarious sadism with no redeeming qualities. And atop those perceived deficiencies, critics slathered it with scorn for unleashing Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and all the other stalwarts of trashy horror cinema on the world.

That was the real sin, you see. These days, Halloween is widely acknowledged as a classic. And yet any time it’s examined as a key piece of cinematic history, an inevitable phrase appears: “the movie [insert text here] inspiring the 1980s slasher movie explosion.” Why the bracketed section? Because, depending on your source, Halloween is either [credited with] or [blamed for] said explosion. And the critics of my childhood most definitely went with option two.

. . . Which didn’t stop those slasher flicks from dominating my youthful (and so often thwarted) movie-viewing ambitions.

Continue reading

The Horror. The Horror. Round 9: Housebound

housebound posterTonight I have the pleasure of introducing you to the best movie to come out of New Zealand since the Lord of the Rings trilogy. (In this house we do not speak of that bloated abomination that stole The Hobbit’s good name. Poor Martin Freeman.) It’s a little gem called Housebound. I’d never heard of this movie until I was perusing the internet’s multifarious offerings of “Best Horror Movies Streaming on Netflix” lists, on which it popped up more often than not. It deserves so much better.

I can’t summarize this movie without spoiling what makes it so good. I can only offer a taste. Housebound opens with a hilariously botched attempt by two thieves to break into an ATM. One of them, Kylie, is our protagonist, a young woman with issues; we learn that the ATM fiasco isn’t her first rodeo, crime-wise. Rejecting the usual diversion programs as having been, shall we way, ineffectual, the judge sentences Kylie to eight months of house arrest . . . in her childhood home . . . with the mother and stepdad she can’t stand.

And oh, by the way, her mother has always been convinced the house is haunted, much to Kylie’s irritation. Of course, no sooner is Kylie delivered to her mom’s house and ankle-braceleted than she begins to hear strange noises. And off we go. That’s as much as I can tell you other than Watch this movie tonight.

Continue reading