Monday, September 18, 2017

Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (1987)

With Death Note being a bit of a downer, I decided that I would venture into something completely different. After searching my streaming services, I decided on the 1987 supernatural sequel Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II.

Plot/ Thirty years after her accidental death at her 1957 senior prom, the tortured spirit of prom queen Mary Lou Maloney returns to seek revenge.

I remember seeing this when it came out. As a fan of the original Prom Night with Jamie Lee Curtis, I was somewhat disappointed in the change of direction with the sequel. However, after watching it again, I found it a decent flashback to the classic 1980s cheese that seemed to become more prevalent as the decade wore on. While this one had almost zero connection to the original and was a complete mixture of multiple supernatural classics (The Exorcist, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Carrie for a start), this one was fun and mindless. Most importantly, it was not afraid of pushing the boundaries or limits of the rating system (something it seems like no films will do today). Sure, the looks are dated, the performances were uneven, it lacked the tension from the slasher craze, the storyline was unoriginal, and it was rather predictable, but there was a decent amount of blood and it created an interesting departure from what many would have expected. In the end, this is in no way a great movie and it is quite mindless, but it can serve its purpose as background fodder on a slow afternoon. Give it a shot; you could do worse.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Death Note (2017)

After last nights trip to the theater to see IT, I decided to do some relaxing before the Steelers game today. To accomplish that, I chose the 2017 anime adaption Death Note from Netflix to help pass some time.

Plot/ A high school student named, Light Turner, discovers a mysterious notebook that has the power to kill anyone whose name is written within its pages and launches a secret crusade to rid the world of criminals.

Having not watched the original anime series, I went into this one somewhat blind on what to expect. I usually take this as a positive, however; in this case, I am not sure. From the outset, the characters felt disconnected to the story and somewhat underdeveloped, the scripting seemed a bit flat and empty, and the special effects and CGI seemed to be underwhelming and at times laughable. The performances were not bad and the cast seemed solid enough, but those elements did nothing to make this memorable in any way. In the end, I should have followed my student's advice and moved past this one when it popped up. They said this was terrible and I would be better off watching the anime series. They were right; this one did nothing for me in any way. Stay away, especially if you are a fan of the series; you will be disappointed.

IT (2017)

As a horror fan, it is nice to see a buzz created within the genre. Hopefully, this attention leads to Hollywood taking some time and giving horror fans more movies, we can enjoy. With that buzz, I had to actually go see this one in the theater because the daughters have been yapping about it for a week. Last night I broke down and saw the 2017 Stephen King adaptation reboot of IT.

Plot/ In the Town of Derry, the local kids are disappearing one by one, leaving behind bloody remains. In a place known as The Barrens, a group of seven kids are united by their horrifying and strange encounters with an evil clown and their determination to kill IT.

Last night, I finally took the girls to see IT and was actually surprised by the overall experience. While this one was not as scary as I had heard (and would have liked), I thought it was an entertaining movie and one that was perfect for the daughters. The performances were solid and the actors and characters had great chemistry between them, the make-up was outstanding, and the cinematography, use of lighting, and overall visuals were tremendous. Even the scripting was able to create a somewhat darker atmosphere and keep the subtle comedic elements in play throughout. Unfortunately for me, the scares just weren’t there. Maybe it is because I have read the Stephen King classic or maybe because I consume horror movies all the time, but I found it a touch predictable. Plus, I am not a huge fan of CGI and there were some times where that process felt overused. In the end, I did thoroughly enjoy this movie. No, it wasn’t perfect or close to the best King adaptation, but it made for an entertaining evening and again proves why Clown Lives Matter. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

IT (1990)

As I prepare to go see the new blockbuster IT, I decided that I wanted to venture back into the mind of Stephen King for a few days this week. So I figured that there was no better way to end this week than a trip back to 1990 for the King classic IT!

Plot/ In 1960, seven pre-teen outcasts fight an evil demon who poses as a child-killing clown. Thirty years later, they reunite to stop the demon once and for all when it returns to their hometown.

As I prepared this week to go see IT, I don’t think it would be prudent to see the film unless I revisited the 1990 miniseries that made people fear clowns. First off, Tim Curry is amazing as Pennywise, interpreting the darkness of the evil clown perfectly. Based on a huge novel by Stephen King, the adaptation was sound; striking a nice balance between the materials from the novel that was necessary and unnecessary. Yes, some of it was a touch bizarre, but that fit the storyline. Other than that, the cast was interesting and because it was a made for television event the lack of gore and onscreen violence is to be expected. Unfortunately, the production values reek of lower quality television, the visuals are average at best do not capture the atmosphere in the way that it should, and the performances are a little flat. In fact, because of the run-time, it is debatable on whether or not the film is too long or short, an answer that even watching it again has me questioning. The worst part is the ending, which was somewhat of a letdown in comparison to the craziness from the source material. In the end, this was a fun and nostalgic look back at a miniseries that did leave an imprint on society. While it is rough in some spots, I feel that it is a great primer for the movie I am about to see. It may not be perfect, but if you haven’t seen it, give it a shot.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Blob (1988)

One of the things that have taken a backseat to softball season these past few years is attending the annual Blobfest that celebrates the classic tale, The Blob. It is a festival that I totally recommend for any true sci-fi fan. After some thought last night, I decided to revisit The Blob, but instead of the 1958 classic, I chose the modern reboot from 1988.

Plot/ Remake of the 1958 sci-fi horror classic about a deadly blob from another planet, which consumes everything in its path. Teenagers attempt without success to warn the townspeople, who refuse to take them seriously.

Let me start by saying, I am a huge fan of the original cult classic The Blob. While this one is not as campy or even as charming as the original, it does do enough to stand on its own. This movie was a lot more entertaining than I thought it would be. It would likely be more respected had it not been a reboot of the cult classic. Completely different from the original, this one does feature some solid performances, a lot of action, and enough gore to fit in with many of the films crafted in the 1980s. However, the feel loses some of the tension created in the scenes with the blob and never truly captures those atmospheric elements that could have made this movie even more memorable. Plus, it lacks suspense, leaving is solely a gorefest. In the end, while this is a fun and entertaining film (even all these years later) it does lack the overall atmosphere and suspense to make it extremely memorable. If you have not seen it, and you are a horror/sci-fi fan, you are missing out. Find it and check it out.