As we get into the fourth week of October, the test kitchen is in full swing while the yard really starts taking shape. Still, there is plenty of time for Moviefest as you can clearly see. The first three movies this week were shared with my grandkids during their fall break and are generally fit for family style viewing. That is, if your family is a little off their rocker like mine.
You can argue whether Ghostbustersfits the scary movie genre. I tend to go back and forth as well, but ghosts, apparitions, dogs and cats living together . . . it feels like it belongs and besides, it is one damn funny movie. I am talking about the original here. Until recently I had heard nothing good about the remake and decided to skip it; maybe I just didn't want to mess with the original. But my brother and my niece convinced me it is worth the time so I will get to it. Just not in October. This may be Bill Murray's funniest movie - I can't decide between this and Stripes. Or Caddyshack. Maybe a dead heat until Rushmore. How did that one even get by? I think if I could spend a day on the golf course with anyone in the world, I would choose Bill Murray. Did you know that pretty much none of the scenes in Ghostbusters were shot as scripted? There is ad lib all through the movie. It makes me wonder how anybody got through a scene without cracking up. As you head into the home stretch and feel like you need a break from all of the scare and gore, spend an evening with this 1984 classic.
Haunter may be the best sleeper film on my list. Other than a handful of independent showings, it went straight to DVD. Or in my case, Netflix, where it has been available since I bumped into it 3 years ago. Little Miss Sunshine, Abigail Breslin, stars in this supernatural thriller that is just scary enough to be scary, but suitable for that person who just isn't into scary movies.
The opening scene in Ghost Shipis fantastic and I try to imagine what my 11 year old self may have thought about it. I was 11 when I saw the movie that sort of defined scary for me so that is my benchmark age. More on that movie later. So to back up, maybe this film isn't quite suitable for the kidlets or the squeamish; the horror isn't all psychological (as originally written). A haunted ship, a cursed cargo, a sinless heroine against the collector of souls. Every year I think about using my old boat to build a ghost ship Halloween display but have not quite made the commitment. It would cut into my moviefest time and, well, a girl has to have priorities.
Roll back to my review of Insidious 2 and you will see a clue for my review of Insidious 3. I didn't love it, I am not sure I even like it although I won't say that it sucked. The film includes our favorite ghost hunter, Elise so that is a plus. Chronologically it takes place 3 years before the haunting in the first two films though Lyn Shaye has clearly aged since we first saw her in Chapter 1. Chapter 3 explores Elise's history and shows how she teamed up with Tucker and Specs. Absent a strong plot, a prequel tends to fall back on building the characters' histories against a backdrop that isn't nearly as compelling as the story in the first two chapters. I blame the director. More the absence of the director. Wan's Magic is obviously missing from this latest installment and me thinks his time would have been better spent here than on Furious 7. Chapter 4 is scheduled to release next year sans Wan as director.
The Uninvited is another American remake of an Asian horror film like The Ring and The Grudge. (It must be a rule that these movie titles start with "The.") I don't recommend tuning in if supernatural girls with long creepy hair is what you are in the mood for, though. This wicked stepmother psychological thriller is borderline horror with a twist that I should have seen coming, but didn't. Kudos to the director for doing that to this hard core horror movie fan. It is hard to fine a new thriller that measures up without being cliche and I felt like I got there with this film. The Uninvited is not my favorite or even in the top 10 or 20, nor am I sure I watch it again unless it came up during a surf and I was too lazy to look any harder. But give it a try if you're looking for something you haven't already seen that is good enough to at least hold your interest.
I can't believe it has been 20 years since Ghost Face brought us the best Halloween costume ever. I saw a little kid wearing one at the grocery store over the weekend, he or she looked to be the size of maybe a 6-year old. But dressed as the villain in Scream, everybody is terrifying. I love the way this film makes fun of horror movie cliches while committing all of the same sins, including corn syrup for blood. This film also delivers us the six rules for surviving a horror movie. Can you name them?
Sinister is one of the few newer scary movies that I saw in the theater. The trailer was truly terrifying, I couldn't wait to see it. My husband and I went with a few co-workers whose wives don't watch scary movies so I felt like I was crashing boys' night out. And I was the only one who jumped. I've seen the film 4 or 5 times since then and I still jump in the same spot. I know it's coming, but I jump anyway - every time. This film is really low on the blood and gore scale, it contains no nudity and very little profanity. It is rated R for disturbing content which includes kids - so be warned.
Halloween II was filmed just 3 years after the original, long enough that Jamie Lee Curtis looks visibly older. To me anyway. Maybe it was just the wig. That isn't the only flaw in this sequel which takes place almost entirely in a hospital with no lighting and whose only patients appear to be newborns. Halloween II falls well below the standard set by the original but I kind of think it was doomed from the start. Once the evil that is Michael Myers was revealed, there isn't a lot left to build suspense on the same night so bad slasher-movie scenes took over. I always expect a sequel that includes the same core cast to be better than it usually is. John Carpenter wrote this film but he did not direct it. Oh and did you spot Dana Carvey? If not, go back and watch again because I missed it, too.
I closed out week 4 with one of my favorites - Poltergeist. This movie was released in 1982 just one week before "E.T. -The Extra Terrestrial" hit the box office; both are Spielberg films. I was completely unprepared for the scares this movie delivered so it quickly rose to the top of my "scariest movie" list and still hangs out near the top today. I don't know if it was the clown or the storms or bodies popping out of the ground, but I left the theater shaking with fright and delight. I saw E.T. shortly after and hated it because for some reason, I expected a similar experience to Poltergeist so I was obviously disappointed. I still don't understand the allure of E.T. which got way more attention at the time, but then most people don't understand horror films so I guess it all evens out. Poltergeist also makes my "top 5 movies for a stormy night" list. Poltergeist is rumored to be cursed; the eldest daughter was strangled by her boyfriend shortly after the film's release. She is buried in the same cemetery as Carole Anne (Heather O'Rourke) who died six years later on San Diego...on Superbowl XXII Sunday, which matches the superbowl poster in Robbie's room in the movie. Let that sink in. Lou Perryman who played Pugsley in the film was also murdered, some 14 years after the release of Poltergeist. In addition, two actors in Poltergeist II died within a year of the film's release. Only the four actors' deaths were part of the original curse; Perryman's death was added later due to its unnatural circumstances. The only curse I really believe in is the curse of the sequel. Poltergeist II was awful.
If you're keeping score, we are at 31 movies going in to the Halloween weekend. Officially we could call it and spend the weekend doing something more productive - like catching up on this blog, but what would be the fun in that? Stay tuned, the grand finale is just around the corner.