Daily Archives: October 10, 2011

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The Best Halloween Movies #22 The Monster Squad

 

“Perfect monsters hate religious stuff”

It’s insights like that that show these kids truly know what they’re talking about when it comes to monsters. In this case it’s a who’s who of classic film. Dracula. His three brides. Frankenstein’s monster. The Wolfman. The Creature from the Black Lagoon. The Mummy. The gang’s all here in their traditional laconic demeanor (except for Dracula, that guy loves to hear himself talk…and come up with little witty quips like “Meeting adjourned.”) I can’t sing this movie’s praises for too long, it’s just too silly to do so, but it gets this high on the list because it does understand the nature and style of all the classic horror movies, wraps them into one, and adds a touch of the innocence of childhood.

This movie is also a fun trip back to the 80’s. There is the power ballad montage as the squad prepares for battle. There is the truly awful fashion. Drive-in movies are still around. Parents still smoke right in front of their kids unaware that it’s a class A felony and crime against humanity. The language is so radically not P.C. that even I was a little stunned when I heard it (yeah it’s been a years…a decade…since the last time I saw this.)

Also…
There have been complaints about some of the movies I don’t seem to have included…so let me run down the list of why some other movies and TV shows didn’t make the list

Twilight Zone: Too hopeful. Yeah there were some scary scenes but overall Rod Serling wasn’t so much taken with the fear of death but with the miracle of life…just look at the episode where Redford plays death, it’s a very uplifting tale.

Outer Limits: Not well done. In either the old or the new version its quality was always inconsistent at best…and laughable at worst. The poor man’s Twilight Zone.

Gremlins: Horror movies cannot have cute furballs…and Christmas movies can’t have stories of people’s dads dying in a chimney, so it won’t be making that list either.

The Exorcist: I have comedies on this list, but they were trying to be funny, the Exorcist is funny because it’s so poorly done. I can’t help but laugh the whole way through. Honestly, how is anyone frightened by this farce?

The Ninth Gate: I’ve actually heard good things about this…and the minute director and child rapist Roman Polanski dies I’ll give it a try, but not a minute before.

House II: Several people from my generation mentioned this movie to me…we all seem to remember it fondly. How can you not? The movie actually includes the following line from an electrician called to deal with an old house’s electricity problem: “What you’ve got here is your standard transdimensional portal. I’ve dealt with this before.” But aside from a few witty (albeit bizarre) lines, it really didn’t hold up when I went back to watch it.

Evolution: I think it’s funnier than some of the comedies on this list…but I just see it as more sci-fi than horror.

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Come Gather Round People Wherever You Roam…

I bow to this man’s genius.

 

And before you get all upset at the parody I would remind you of this Dylan quote:

“The world was absurd … I had very little in common with and knew even less about a generation that I was supposed to be the voice of[…] I was fantasising about a nine-to-five existence, a house on a tree-lined block with a white picket fence, pink roses in the backyard.”

 

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Halloween Movies #23 Little Shop of Horrors

When I started this list I said I wasn’t going to include any of the really old horror films, because, and no offense to Lugosi, Karloff, and Chaney, but those movies are too cheesy. If it wasn’t for the fame of these movies they would have been first round picks at Mystery Science Theater 3000. Yes they were groundbreaking in their genre…but ground breaking and great are not necessarily the same thing. However there are a couple of films that not only do a good job of recognizing the camp of the early works in the genre and doing a good job of using that same camp for clever parody. Today and tomorrow’s pick do that quite well.

Little Shop of Horrors is based on an older and much campier movie of the same name. It’s the story of a giant flesh eating, smartass, plant from outer space hell bent on world domination. And it’s a musical. I can only image how the pitch session went and what the writer actually said to get the thing green lit.

It also makes fun of the late 50’s/early 60’s culture that gave us so so many terrible monster movies that would eventually conquer the world. Yeah I find the critique of crass consumerism a little heavy handed but just because I’m a capitalist doesn’t mean I will defend what businesses do to the death.

Why is this a horror movie? Well it’s not only the blood sucking mean green mother from outer space that constantly demands “Feed me!” It’s a horror movie because it has something far, far more horrifying. Something we have all encountered in our lives. The thing of nightmares. A demon straight from the bowels of Hell itself. A dentist who enjoys causing pain (as if there is any other kind of dentist).

And it stars Rick Moranis. Yes him, he was never a great actor but we miss him all the same. Moranis plays awkward down and out nerd Seymour who is offered a Faustian bargain to gain wealth, fame, and the woman he loves all for the low price of killing people. Admittedly he gives in a little quickly to be a true hero, but hey, as the movie says “A lot of people deserve to die.”*


All the bad stereotypes of a movie you see the three commentators from Mystery Science Theater making fun of are here…but since the movie is already making fun of them, there was no need to put it on that show.

*Not really, but I’m going with the line. I wouldn’t usually need to point out that this was sarcasm but I’ve had some problems with people not being able to sense sarcasm in writing lately.

Up next a movie that directly makes fun of all the classic horror movies.

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