Movie Review: Jeepers Creepers 3

(Full length review submitted by Mr. Anton Phibes…Thanks, Ho-rror Ho-mie. I wasn’t gonna touch this one!! ūüėČ xoxo)

It’s quite difficult to discuss Jeepers Creepers 3 without mentioning¬†director Victor Salva’s sordid past in some capacity. His actions have divided horror fans and cast a grim shadow on the popular franchise. However, For this review, I will separate the art from the artist. In no way do I condone Salva’s crime, but my opinion will be based solely on the film itself and not on its director. So, when divorced from its creator, is this film any good?

No. Not at all.

Jeepers Creepers 3 takes place after the final moments of the first film.  Brandon Smith reprises the role of Sgt. Tubbs, who joins forces with Sheriff Tashtego  (Stan Shaw) to hunt The Creeper (Jonathan Breck), a winged creature who feeds on human flesh every 23rd day of every 23rd Spring. The two cops eventually team up with Gaylen Brandon (Meg Foster), a half-mad woman who has a history with the creature. Will they succeed in killing the beast or will he feed again in another 23 years? Considering the recent talk of a potential fourth installment, I think you can guess the answer.

Stripped of its controversy, Jeepers Creepers 3 has very little to offer, save for a few unintentional chuckles. ¬†There’s nothing clever, intriguing, frightening, or even weird about it. I’m generally not the kind to be overly critical of a creature feature, but there’s just nothing here. I wasn’t a huge fan of previous entries, but they weren’t quite this bad. And not a fun sort of bad, either. Jeepers Creepers 3 is awful¬†in the most ordinary way. It¬†borrows ideas and frights from other scare fare, but without any life or joy. It’s rare for me not to enjoy a monster-on-the-loose picture, but I’m afraid that this film wasn’t all that frightful.

If you’ve seen the other two films, this one offers nothing fresh or interesting. It teases an origin we never get to see and turns The Creeper’s truck into a Mario Kart-like¬†abomination, but that’s about every new element it has to offer. Imagine a SyFy Channel reboot of the franchise and you’ll have a decent idea of what this film is like. There were a couple of shots I thought were wonderfully moody, but that’s hardly enough to recommend an entire movie. Even the acting, with the exceptional of the great Meg Foster, is blandly poor. Almost everything about this film is uninspired.

The Creeper, once a fairly intimidating force of supernatural evil, is played in a ridiculous manner that suggests camp, but feels out of place in a film that is otherwise pretty straight. Now, I don’t mind a cheeky monster, but it simply doesn’t work here. Even in his first big scene in the film, The Creeper kills all potential menace he might of had by literally wagging a finger at a victim. Apparently, The Creeper enjoys Twilight Zone: The Movie….

If you’re a die-hard fan of this franchise, you may get some amusement out of this film. There are those who’ve been clamoring for this film for over decade now. I’m not one of them, I sincerely hope that this film lives up to their expectations. But for those simply looking for a good monster movie about a man-eating creature that comes every 20-plus years, I suggest you see IT.¬†¬†Heck, see IT¬†again, if you’ve already seen it. You’ll probably get more out of a repeat viewing of that film than single viewing of this forgettable fright flick.

IT (2017) Movie Review

(Submitted by our own Mr. Anton Phibes…Thanks, Ho-rror Ho-mie! ūüôā xoxo)

To say that expectations were high for 2017’s IT would be a grotesque understatement. Based on the best-selling Stephen King novel, the film is the second adaptation of the material, following the much beloved miniseries. Before even a single frame of this latest version came to be, a thunderous jolt of anticipation struck film-goers like a circus locomotive. Thousands of think pieces, fan art, and parodies sprouted up when the very first image of “IT” was released, and that goes doubly so for the trailer. IT¬†was a bonafide cultural phenomena before it was projected on a single screen. Living up to such monstrous adaptations seems impossible, but does IT succeed? ¬†With a big grease-painted grin, I’m very pleased to report that IT is every bit the monsterpiece we had hoped for.

Stephen King’s novel is a massive work of fiction told through narratives alternating between two timelines, so the film wisely adapts the half of the novel that focuses on the seven protagonists as kids. The film advances the setting from the 1950s to the late ’80s, but still maintains much of the source material. In the movie, Bill (Jaeden Lieberher), Beverly (Sophia Lillis), Richie (Stranger Things‚Äô Finn Wolfhard), Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), Mike (Chosen Jacobs) and Stan (Wyatt Oleff) are all social outcasts in their own way. United by their misfit status, they develop a tight-knit relationship and dub themselves the “Losers’ Club”. When a malevolent shape-shifting killer targets them, the unconventional heroes must conquer their fears to conquer “IT”.
IT is a lot like King’s Stand By Me, but with an eldritch abomination creeping about. It’s almost as much a coming-of-age story as it is a monster movie. Sure, the clown is a fright to behold, but the children are undeniably the heart of the story. ¬†Their struggles, their quirks, and their interactions feel so very real that it’s easy to forget that these are actors reading from a script. They are the kind of “geeky” kids you may have known (or been) growing up, with all the flaws and idiosyncrasies that come with such children. All are incredibly lovable, making the horror (both otherworldly and mundane) that befalls them unbearable. Both their chemistry and individual charms are what elevate this film to greatness and achieve the impressive feat of making a film about a child-eating clown monster heartwarming.

Of course, even with an exceptional group of heroes, a monster movie still needs a credible monster… oh boy! does It succeed in that regard! Actor Bill Skarsgard had some big floppy shoes to fill after Tim Curry’s turn in the miniseries, but he works sorcery here as Pennywise, the clown form of “IT”. ¬†Pennywise’s initial appearances in this film are almost inviting, but there’s always that sense that he’s plotting… and hungry. Even in his most clownishly charming moments, he can barely conceal his ghastly appetite. As the film progresses, Pennywise grows more and more demonic in a truly unsettling fashion. It’s the stuff of nightmares.


There’s been a lot of talk about whether or not the new “IT” is superior to the old one.The way I see it, Tim Curry and Bill Skarsgard are to Pennywise what Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee are to Dracula: two unique actors giving equally brilliant performances as the same monster. Bill Skarsgard‚Äôs interpretation is considerably different than Curry’s, but still magnificent in its own way. Curry was pretty darn funny as the hellish harlequin, giving him a comedic edge that makes his more violent moments genuinely shocking. Skarsgard had a more overtly diabolical quality that is still ¬†quite effective. Regardless of which performance you prefer, I think most of us can agree that Bill Skarsgard is a worthy “IT” for a new generation. Bravo to both clowns!

Despite its cast of children, IT is a fairly disturbing movie with some wonderfully nasty bits. Some of the most beautifully wicked scares you’ll see in a big budget fright film are lurking in this film. From the gory to the surreal, there’s a shock here for every taste. There are even some scenes that have an old-fashioned Gothic flavor to them, most of which take place in what is perhaps the best “haunted house” set I’ve seen in years. If you like a wide variety of creepy things, IT’s the spook show for you.

With an already killer box office intake and fabulous reviews, there’s little doubt that a sequel based on the novel’s second half is on its way. In fact, there’s one teased at the very end of the film. While I’ll certainly miss the child actors, I have no doubt that the next one will be another sensational work of horror cinema. I look forward to seeing Pennywise dance again. As for this current installment, stop clowning around and see it as soon as you can! Beep Beep!

The Dark Tower Review

(Submitted with utmost sincerity by Mr. Anton Phibes…Thanks, Ho-rror Ho-mie…As a Stephen King fangirl, I didn’t want to touch this one!! ūüėČ xoxo)

I’ve not read a single book in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. ¬†At best, I have passing familiarity with the basics. However, I am aware of the enormity of its fanbase and the lofty expectations thrust upon this particular picture. For a good many years, Hollywood had attempted to bring this towering (Pun very much intended) series to the cinema, with the project being shuffled from one filmmaker/studio to another. ¬†With each crumb of new information offered on the project, fans expressed extreme excitement. After many false-starts and failed attempts, the film was finally made. And it is because of this wait that my heart goes out to all the Dark Tower fans. Even in my vast ignorance of the series, I can tell that this is not the Dark Tower film readers were clamoring for.

As a man simply looking for a good time at the movies, I wasn’t entirely displeased. The film had some small delights to offer and was mostly competent. Sure, it was riddled with cliche, but that’s something I can stomach. For the casual viewer, this film might be a pleasantly forgettable romp. It’s a lean, mean fantasy adventure with a few thrills and chills to offer, if nothing truly special. But audiences expected more from this material, and I certainly don’t blame them for doing so. When you’re drawing from a story told in eight volumes, a 95 minute film just isn’t ¬†likely to do the trick.
From what I’ve gathered, the movie picks bits and pieces from various books in the series for its plot. I’ve also heard it said it that, outside of those cherry-picked elements, has very little to do with the series. ¬†As it is, the film’s plot concerns¬†the last Gunslinger and his quest for revenge the Man in Black, ¬†a devilish sorcerer out to destroy existence. The Gunslinger is joined by Jake, a young man with the gift of the “Shine”, first seen in King’s The Shining. With The Gunslinger’s skill and Jake’s Shine, they must stop the mad magician before it’s too late.

The primary reason to watch this film are for the performances by the actors. Unfortunately, the script doesn’t allow them to utilize their full potential, but they’re still rather good. Idris Elba is always a fantastic addition to any film and his gruff demeanor suits the Gunslinger well. Tom Taylor as the young Jake is very likable and his performance brings to mind some of the great family fantasies of the ’80s. Matthew McConaughey steals the show with a hammy portrayal of evil that’s delicious in its daffy depiction of deviltry.

The Dark Tower¬†is far from the epic people had hoped for. As agreeable popcorn nonsense, it’s perfectly serviceable. As an adaptation, I feel that fans will likely be disappointed. However, a TV series is still in development, so perhaps that will put the franchise back on the right trail. Let’s hope that the Gunslinger’s next ride is a glorious one.

Movie Review: War for the Planet of the Apes

(Submitted by a truly hardcore fan of the entire Ape-y series, Mr. Anton Phibes…Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, ya dang dirty human!! ūüėČ xoxo)

We’ve all been to the Planet of the Apes before. Many times, in fact. The first visitation was in 1968 and it was a most magnificent trip. We made frequent stays throughout the ’70s. All were incredibly lovely, but lacking the majesty of the first. After a long hiatus, we journeyed back with Tim Burton in 2004, but I think we’d rather forget about that one. Our last two “Ape” vacations were pleasant enough, but I feared that the magic was gone. They certainly looked nice, but there was nothing really memorable about them. That’s why It is with great pleasure that I report that War for the Planet of the Apes is not only a fantastic return to the Planet, but perhaps the best since the first.

War for the Planet of the Apes is still very much a Planet of the Apes,¬†but the “War” aspect is very prominent . The film takes inspiration from¬†war movie classics like The Great Escape, Bridge on the River Kwai (based on a novel from the author of Planet of the Apes), and¬†Apocalypse Now.¬†Odd influences for a science fiction film, but it all works so very well. And while War¬†of the Planet of the Apes does indeed draw from these sources, it still feels very much like its own film.

Picking up not long after the previous film, the movie depicts the further escalation of the conflict between ape and man. The ape clan, led by the chimpanzee Caesar (Andy Serkis), is at war with a military faction known as Alpha-Omega, lead by The Colonial (Woody Harrelson) ¬†Not wanting to suffer any more ape casualties, Caesar plans to relocate the clan from San Francisco to the desert. ¬†However, on the the night before their journey, the apes are attacked by¬†Alpha-Omega, who kill Caesar’s wife and child. Filled with rage, Caesar begins a quest to avenge his kind.

The film is truly spectacular in every sense of the word. There’s a grandness to the entire picture, not dissimilar to the epics of David Lean. Director Matt Reeves does a masterful job balancing summer movie thrills, genuine suspense, and moving drama, even offering moments of silence that add weight to the proceedings. ¬†Reeves maintains a dark tone, but tempers it with moments of beauty. War for the Planet of the Apes is a grim film in some respects, but it offers hope and still serves as a rousing display of ape-based action.

Of course, a planet like this is only as good as the apes that inhabit it. And these apes are among the most human in the entire franchise. All of the ape actors are incredible and imbue their simians with personality, but the movie rightfully belongs to Andy Serkis. Serkis was fantastic in the previous entries, but his performance is downright perfect here. His face, his emotions, and his power all shine brightly through the digital make-up. It’s easy for one to forget that Serkis is actually a human in real life. If any modern performer comes close to the magic that Lon Chaney had, it’s Andy Serkis.

As Caesar’s great enemy,¬†Woody Harrelson is dynamite. Fearsome, cold, brutal… Harrelson’s Colonel is beyond chilling at times. Along with this version of Caesar, ¬†I believe The Colonel is destined to become one of the icons of this franchise. Newcomer Amiah Miller¬†is beyond endearing as the mute Nova, named for Linda Harrison’s role in the first two original PotA. She often steals the scene without saying a word, although she does get to sign a few.

War for the Planet of the Apes ends on a landscape that brings to mind the original film, hinting at what lies ahead. If they do another sequel, I will certainly see it. But I think they should end the reboot franchise here. I can’t imagine a more beautiful conclusion to this franchise than this. If this ends up being our last trip to the Planet of the Apes, I’d be more than satisfied. ¬†Hail Caesar.

Alien: Covenant Review *Spoilers*

(Submitted by Mr. Anton Phibes…Thanks, Kinky Ho-bo! ;)xoxo)

“Here at least we shall be free; the Almighty hath not built. Here for his envy, will not drive us hence: Here we may reign secure, and in my choice to reign is worth ambition though in Hell: Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven.”

-John Milton, Paradise Lost

 

“I’ll do the fingering.”

David, Alien: Covenant

Alien: Covenant is a strange beast. It’s both a sequel to 2012’s Prometheus and an apology for it. Director Ridley Scott still seems to be interested in the ideas and conceits explored in that film, but also wants to satisfy the fans who were vocal in their burning hatred for it. As a result, Alien: Covenant¬†is a hybrid of Prometheus and the original Alien:¬†a monster mash of high-minded concepts and ghost train theatrics. If you were¬†hoping to see the return of Prometheus‘ Shaw (Noomi Rapace) or more of the Engineers (the extraterrestrial creators of mankind) in this film, I’m afraid you’ll be sorely disappointed. However, if you’re hungry for atmospherics, gore, nostalgia, and tons of monsters, this is the film for you.

Set a decade after Prometheus, Alien: Covenant¬†¬†concerns the crew of the colony ship Covenant and their discovery of what appears¬†to be an uncharted paradise. It’s revealed that the planet is inhabited by hostile creatures and… well, you know the drill. The film more-or-less plays out the way you’d imagine, though that’s hardly a bad thing. What we have here is essentially a “Greatest Hits” of the Alien franchise. Eggs are hatched, distress signals are answered, creatures burst from stomachs, and faces are hugged. The film does nothing new with the series, but it’s a highly enjoyable return to basics. In that regard, it’s the¬†Star Wars: The Force Awakens¬†of the the Alien series.

Like¬†Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Alien: Covenant ¬†is a soft reboot masquerading as a sequel. Prometheus is essentially jettisoned in favor of a more familiar bit of sci-fi terror. Unfortunately, that means that most of the characters/creatures left alive at the end of Prometheus¬†are disposed of. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) is given a, um, less-than-happy ending, which I thought was pretty lame. After building the character up and setting up further adventures for her at the end of the previous film,¬†Alien: Covenant¬†gives Shaw the ol’ “Newt/Hicks” treatment. I personally believe that Dr. Shaw deserved a better send-off, but I suppose the studio wanted to distance themselves from Prometheus as much as possible. In fact, the only element from that film that is used to a significant degree in this film is also the one element that was universally praised: ¬†Michael Fassbender.

R.I.P. Dr. Shaw.

Michael Fassbender does double duty as the diabolical David and Walter, the unfortunate android aboard the Covenant. Mr. Fassbender is brilliant in both roles, imbuing both machines with their own distinctive identity. However, it’s David who steals the show and makes this film fantastic. David is delightfully, cartoonishly evil. He’s Michael Gough, Vincent Price, John Carradine, and a cobra fused into an¬†unimaginably hammy chimera¬†of urbane villainy. It truly is a shame they didn’t give him a cape and a mustache to twirl.
There’s also a weird, sexual tension between the two Fassbenders, starting with what is likely the most erotic cinematic flute lesson. The sequence does bring to mind a lot of the weird poetry Prometheus had going for it, and it is probably the most fascinating scene in the picture. At this point, the film takes turns to what could almost be described as “Fassbender porn.” And the internet has already picked up on this. Alien: Covenant isn’t even a week old, yet there’s a disturbing amount of Fassbender X Fassbender fan art. If you think I’m not going to include any of it here, you are deeply mistaken.

While the film generally plays out like a classical monster movie, some of the heavy ideas and literary references of Prometheus do pop up. Questions about the nature of creation are brought up and religious symbolism is scattered throughout. Percy Shelley. Lord Byron, and John Milton are quoted in thematically appropriate ways and Wagner’s¬†Entry of the Gods into Valhalla plays at the end. It’s a little on-the-nose, but it’s all intriguing for what is primarily straightforward creature feature.
As for the rest the rest of the film, it’s loaded with great sci-fi gore, but nothing as intense as Alien‘s dinner scene or the surgery sequence in Prometheus. Katherine Waterston is a fine heroine, but she’s less compelling than the two before her. Is it, as one reviewer put its, a “masterpiece of fear?” No, but it’s an entertaining slice of Alien terror. I wish they had stuck to Prometheus more, but it’s loads of fun.¬†¬†Alien: Covenant is mostly awesome… mostly.

Happy May Day: The Wicker Man (1973)

(Submitted by Mr. Anton Phibes…Thanks, Ho-rrorday Ho-mie! ūüôā xoxo)

*Spoilers*


Happy May 1st to all you wicked witches and groovy ghoulies out there! For most, today is known as “May Day,” ¬†and is primarily associated with sweet flowers and baskets full of small delights. To others, it is known as Beltane, a day in which faeries and spirits are uncommonly active. Magick is strong on this day, and protective bonfires are spread. Generally speaking, human beings are not at the literal center of these bonfires. However, if you are on the isle of¬†Summerisle, ¬†it’s entirely possible that things may get a little hot for you or someone you know…
The Wicker Man (1973) is a weird film. “Weird” is a word we have used numerous times on this site, but it’s a word that fits The Wicker Man better than most films. Even other “weird” films fail to be as weird. ¬†For starters, The Wicker Man is not really a horror film until its last twenty minutes. Instead, it is best described as a “musical.” Hardly a traditional musical, mind you, but a musical. That’s not to to say the film is not unnerving, but it does it more with an overwhelming sense of things being off than with something that is obviously creepy. ¬†However, once it reaches its conclusion, it does earn that “horror” label that it is associated with.

The plot concerns police officer¬†Neil Howie (Edward Woodward) investigating the disappearance of a teenage girl¬†from the island Summerisle. Howie is shocked when the island’s population denies the missing girl’s existence. Being a devout Christian of the puritanical sort, Howie is even more perturbed when he learns that¬†the inhabitants are worshipers of a form of Celtic paganism. As the officer continues his investigation, the officer’s unease escalates when he suspects that the girl’s disappearance may be linked to a ghastly public festival.


Anthony “Frenzy” Shaffer’s screenplay is brilliantly crafted, making its finale (which I will get to very shortly) all the more powerful. its weird folk musical sequences and use of Pagan imagery make for a chilling atmosphere that doesn’t resort to crumbling castles, foggy graveyards, thunderstorms, or any of the classic horror tropes. The performances are all aces, especially Christopher Lee as the charismatic Lord Summerisle. Lee, who reportedly did the film for free, often said that Lord Summerisle was one of his favorite roles. While I’m partial to his work with Hammer, it is certainly an impressive performance in a career full of remarkable roles.
The ending is, understandably, the most talked-about part¬†of the film.¬†It has been parodied/referenced by just about everyone, is regularly cited as one of the greatest endings in horror history, and was even included in Bravo’s¬†100 Scariest Movie Moments.¬†Unfortunately, that means that, even if you haven’t seen the film, you have a pretty decent idea of how it goes. Nonetheless, this overexposure can’t really diminish is just how effectively it plays out. No parody, spoiler-filled review, or single image online can capture just how powerfully disturbing it is or how horrifically real the performances seem. That is the ultimate testament to how masterful The Wicker Man is. Even if it isn’t completely unexpected, it still gets under your¬†fingernails.

There isn’t a lot of competition, but The Wicker Man is definitely the greatest May Day/Beltane horror film of all time. ¬†I highly recommend you give this classic shocker a view today. There’s just no better way for a ghoul to celebrate the occasion.

Happy May Day, creeps! MAY your dance around the Maypole be a pleasant one and may your Wicker Man burn bright.

#FBF: The “All’s Well That Criswell” Edition

(Submitted with all the vintage love by Mr. Anton Phibes…Thanks, freaky fiend! ūüôā xoxo)

Greetings, my friend. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future. You are interested in the unknown, the mysterious, the unexplainable. That is why you are here. And now, for the first time, we are bringing to you the full story of what happened on that fateful record. We are bringing you all the evidence, based only on the secret testimony of the miserable souls who survived this terrifying ordeal. The incidents, the places! My friend, we cannot keep this a secret any longer! Let us punish the guilty! Let us reward the innocent! My friend, can your heart stand the shocking facts about The Legendary Criswell Predicts Your Incredible Future?!

I honestly can’t tell you if famed psychic/Plan 9 from Outer Space star The Amazing Criswell was a nutter, a charlatan, or a master showman. Armed with unwavering confidence, a mighty spit-curl, and a sequined suit, Criswell made incredible “predictions” in just about every form of media, but they usually had the same accuracy as a fortune teller machine on a boardwalk. Yes, he did predict that something terrible would stop President Kennedy from running for reelection in 1964… but he also predicted the 1999 “End of the World” by a black rainbow, the 1970 assassination of Castro by “a woman,” mass cannibalism, and the destruction of Denver by an amusement park turned deadly. He was questionable as a psychic, but he sure put on a show. In fact, the only thing I can tell you for certain about Criswell is that he was a highly entertaining personality.

The Legendary Criswell Predicts Your Incredible Future¬†is a fascinating record because it really is just 44 minutes of non-stop predictions. Hearing his booming voice makes it even harder to determine just how sincere Criswell was. Horror fans will likely recognize that his “psychic” delivery is exactly the same as his delivery in the Ed Wood films he appeared in. If he was a carny-like showman, then his tenacity and theatricality should be praised. And If he truly believed he had powers, ¬†he should be admired for honesty and boldness. Either way, Criswell was amazing.
I predict… you will click on the box below to hear The Amazing Criswell!¬†

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

(King-sized hugs to Mr. Anton Phibes for sharing his thoughts with us. I will most definitely be checking this one out myself this weekend, and I’ll let you know if he’s right or not. ūüėČ xoxo)

King Kong (1933) has no equal and never shall. That’s just my opinion, but I rather doubt too many people would disagree with me. Everything about that particular film is simply perfect. ¬†When Peter Jackson made his version of the romantic monster epic, he stuck very close to the source material. Perhaps too close, because it’s the sort of retelling that constantly reminds you of just how beautiful its¬†progenitor is. Mr. Jackson is clearly¬†enamoured with the 1933 film, as his film is just as much a gushy love letter to the first as it is a remake. Unfortunately, that manages to be both its yellow sun and Kryptonite at once. 2005’s King Kong is an admirable film, but it’s a¬†100 min. story stretched to a ludicrous 187 min. runtime. By no means do I dislike Mr. Jackson’s take on the classic monster story, but it just kept reminding me of how perfect the original is…

…Unlike¬†Kong: Skull Island, a film that has no interest in the poetry of the original, but is completely dedicated to giving us the most bonkers monster madness we’ve seen in a mainstream film for years! The Jackson film has a lot of heart, but Skull Island is just nutso fun. There is no pretense of profundity and the love story is pretty much absent, but that’s why it works. Skull Island seems to be based more on¬†Toho’s monster mashes than the Cooper/Schoedsack original, which would make an incredible amount of sense for the true start of what is now being called the Monsterverse. Is it even close to being as great as the original? No, but it’s not trying to be. This is a B-movie done on an A-movie budget, and that’s precisely why I urge all Monster Lovers to see this film immediately!

Kong: Skull Island¬†concerns, as many of these films do, a diverse team of scientists, explorers, and soldiers venturing out to uncharted island inhabited by creatures of a most peculiar nature. As you probably guessed, most of these creatures have quite a voracious appetite and just can’t get enough soldier in their diet. However, what is not usual about all this is that it is a hybrid of a gritty Vietnam War picture and a creature feature! This film owes far more to Apocalypse Now than the 1933 film, right down to its use of ’70s rock favorites. The most disappointing aspect of this mash-up is that the film is not called Viet Kong.

One of the major complaints about Legendary’s¬†Godzilla is that it didn’t have enough Godzilla. Well, it seems that they listened to the public, because Kong is present early and often in this flick! ¬†This Kong is perhaps the most fearsome yet and seems like the kind of beast who could handle a few measly airplanes. Dwarfing previous versions in stature, our new King seems like he’ll be a rather formidable opponent for Godzilla in his upcoming showdown. While not quite as loveable as previous versions, there are hints of a kind heart in that gorilla chest of his. While Kong is the star, he isn’t the only beastei around. ¬†I don’t wish to spoil anything of importance, but this film is a gift to lovers of giant monsters. There are enough monsters in this film ¬†to make any creature fan drool mindlessly in sweet delight. It’s quite extraordinary, really.

Having great monsters is all well and good, but does the film actually utilize them? The answer is a resounding yes. We’ve had a few good giant monster films in the last few years, but none of the have had horror sequences as masterfully gruesome. Before viewing this picture, I never thought I would see a mainstream monster movie with a moment that brought to mind Cannibal Holocaust, but that definitely happened. Considering the intensity and grotesque nature¬†of some the monster sequences (not to mention some casual swearing), I’m actually shocked this film isn’t rated R! If you like your creature features with a generous helping of “ew”, ¬†this is the one for you! Of course, not all the visuals in this film are that nasty. In fact, there are shots in this film that are honestly gorgeous. Within the first half¬†of the film, there is a shot of Kong silhouetted against an orange sky that I believe is destined to become an indelible mage among monster lovers.

While the monsters steal the show, their human costars are excellent. Most of the cast imbues their part with enough quirk and charm to make us care for them… even if we know that they’re not long for the world. John Goodman is as good as ever, giving some depth to a character who easily could have been a cartoonish heavy. Samuel L. Jackson also gives a fantastic turn as the Ahab to Kong’s Moby Dick, as does John C. Reilly as a an eccentric WWII pilot. ¬†While she isn’t given as much to do as previous Kong leading ladies, I quite liked Brie Larson as the “beauty” in this film and look forward to seeing her in feature installments, if she returns. Tom Hiddleston is always pleasant addition, even if he’s a bit underused here.

Kong: Skull Island is not a timeless masterpiece like the original, but it’s a heck of a good time. If you’re like me and you like a stylish horror-adventure with a lot of great monster action, you’ll probably dig it. Unlike the Jackson film, this film makes no real effort to evoke the 1933 film and is all the stronger for it. Kong: Skull Island is a fabulously over-the-top monster mash and completely embraces it. If you can’t get enough monsters, I recommend you stick around after the credits. Hail to the King, baby!

Bonus: I tend to prefer food endorsed by fictional monsters. so I simply had to a Kong shake from¬†Johnny Rockets. They have¬†two different banana-based milkshakes in honor of the Eighth Wonder of the World. I had the¬†Chocolate Banana Shake and it’s monstrously good. The world needs more Kong-approved products!

Get Out (2017)

(Submitted by Mr. Anton Phibes…Thanks, ho-rror ho-mie. This was already in my Must View Queue, but now it’s right there at the very top! ūüôā xo)

Horror is as varied a genre as any other. There are horror films that are meant to delight you, get under your skin, shock you, disturb you, and others that may intend to do something beyond a simple classification. The genre’s primary job is to deal with the with the frightening and/or unnatural. Monsters and ghouls are among my favorite things, but they’re hardly frightening to most in today’s society. What scares most of us is usually something far more real and harder to combat than Dracula. Many brilliant horror films have used the macabre trappings of fantasy to comment on some very real issues. Critics tend to point to George A. Romero as an artist who uses monster movies as commentary. In his work, they see statements on race relations (Night of the Living Dead), consumerism (Dawn of the Dead), conflict between science and the military (Day of the Dead), and class (Land of the Dead). Genre legend John Carpenter’s growing disdain for Reaganomics led him to address these issues in his satirical sci-fi film, They Live.¬†Under the pseudonym “Frank Artimage,” Carpenter took aim at the consumerism of the Reagan era. From the citation of Night of the Living Dead in promotional interviews to the prominent use of the last name “Artimage,” it’s clear that the lessons of these past filmmakers were not lost on director/writer Jordan Peele when he made Get Out.

Get Out¬†concerns Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams), an interracial couple preparing for a trip to meet Rose’s parents.¬†Chris is concerned because Rose hasn’t told them that he is black, but Rose assures him that everything will be fine and they depart. Of course, with this being a horror picture, everything will be far from fine. At first,¬†Rose‚Äôs folks seem fairly normal, if a bit awkward. They give him a warm enough reception, but they are also painfully aware of his race. To add to this strangeness¬†Chris notices that the black people on the premises act… peculiar. As the weekend progresses, what was once awkward morphs into something far more sinister, leading to truth far more disturbing than one could imagine.

Get Out is the directorial debut of comedian Jordan Peele and it is an absolutely glorious way to start. Peele understands the power of the horror genre and uses it to address racism, a horror that is seldom addressed in fright films. The racism on display here is not the overtly violent kind, but the insidious kind that wears a smile and mask of gentility. When we begin to put race above all else, we begin to undermine the humanity of others. Regardless of outward appearances, we are all of the same species. In Get Out, exoticizing, appropriation, and excessive accommodation are all presented as dangerous forms of racism. The most powerful horror films tend to explore uncomfortable themes in a way that not only makes us feel uneasy, but also encourages us think about them. Get Out is that kind of movie.

Get Out not only succeeds ¬†as social commentary, but it also works a damn chilling horror film. Despite this being his first feature film, Peele’s work here is¬†extraordinarily confident. Tension is a thick as fog throughout the picture and the suspense is perfectly unbearable. The performances in the film simply perfect,¬†especially those of leads¬†Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams. Kaluuya’s likable performance makes the horror of what is happening to him all the more terrifying. There are images here that are likely to haunt the viewer for a very long time, including a nightmarish sequence of a hypnotized Kaluuya sinking into endless darkness. The film features hypnotism, mad science, and many other macabre elements that are likely to please my fellow frightseekers.

With an unfathomable 99% on Rotten Tomatoes and its exceptional success at the box office, I have a feeling Get Out will be come a classic of the genre. The film is thought-provoking as it is frightening, and that is quite the feat.¬†¬†Jordan Peele has expressed interest in doing more of these “social thrillers,” and I certainly hope he does! If any of his future films are even half as good as this,¬†Mr. Peele may very well be the next true Master of Horror.

William Castle and The Tell-Tale Heart

(Let’s file this one under #SexxxySaturday… ūüėČ Thanks so much for this, Dr. Phibes! ūüôā xoxo)

‚ÄúWilliam Castle was my idol. His films made me want to make films‚ĶWilliam Castle was God.‚ÄĚ

– John Waters

How do you do, my horror-hungry friends? You are here because you are interested in the morbid, the mysterious, the monstrous, and… the macabre. That is why you are here and that is why we must once again pay homage to Mr. William Castle, a man who embodies all of those qualities.

Dear Mr. Castle is the undisputed¬†king of Hollywood Ballyhoo, a warrior against¬†mundane film-viewing, and the High Priest of Horror Marketing. There is just no way to undersell just how much this man means to me and millions of other frightseekers. We all love his films,¬†delight in his gimmicks, and admire his carnival talker attitiude. Mr. Castle wanted to be as admired as Hitchcock, but he’ll always be my Hitchcock. I’ve talked about the man¬†and I’m sure this won’t be the last, but I’d like to share with you this absolute gem that proves that William Castle doesn’t need visuals to knock ’em dead…

In 1966, Master Castle joined Hanna-Barbera’s record label for a rather intense and very Castle reading of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, a story suited for a sinister showman of Castle’s magnitude. Bringing to mind radio’s Lights Out, Castle urges the audience to listen to his tale in utter darkness. With the histrionic madness of a Dwight Frye, Castle really devours the material, snarling and screaming his way through Poe’s tale in the most deliciously hammy way possible. This recording is like having a Castle film dance through your eardrums. It is pure magic.

Check it out, my homicidal friends: