Tag Archives: LBoM: Retrospectives

Creepshow: The Whole Bloody And Macabre Saga Part II

So I’m at the final hurdle of this Creepshow/Halloween special retrospective. It’s been a pretty uneven journey so far. A cracking and iconic first film, followed by a disappointing but still entertaining sequel… the less said about that atrocious third film the better. But at this juncture, I think it’s fair to say that Creepshow has lost it’s way and was dying as a franchise. I was pretty sure that Creepshow 3 would be the nail in the coffin of the anthology storytelling that was Creepshow and it kind of was for a good while too. But before I do get into the new TV show, there is a little Creepshow curio I want to quickly cover.

Creepshow Raw

Creepshow Raw

So this is a bit of an oddity and little known/forgotten about. Creepshow Raw was meant to breathe new life into the ailing franchise. Designed to be a rebirth and broadcast on the interwebs as an online web series. The idea never really took off and only one episode was ever produced, which you can find easily enough with a Google search.

Insomnia

Released in 2009, this little slice of Creepshow told the story of young boy Phillip (Sam Elliot Hafermalz) who suffers from insomnia. His drunken and abusive step father, Barry (Michael Madsen) shows little sympathy toward the youngster’s condition. That night and Barry soon learns just why Philip can’t sleep at night.

Overall

You know what? This was actually not too bad. I mean, it’s not classic Creepshow but a lot better then anything in Creepshow 3. The episode only runs for around eight minutes and was originally shown on the website IGN. This short goes back to roots with the comic book presentation and filters. This is what a Creepshow reboot should’ve been, but nothing ever came of it. With a bit more work and polish, this really could’ve worked. There were a total of ten episodes planned, but only this one was ever made and shown. From what I’ve managed to dig up, the production team behind Creepshow Raw just lost interest and decided not to make any more episodes. It’s a shame because this really was a step in the right direction, a bit rough I admit but it was heading in the right direction, as you can see for yourselves…

 

 

So that was it for anything Creepshow related until just a few weeks ago when the all new Creepshow TV series kicked off. I honestly had no idea it existed until I did a random search on the interwebs for Creepshow. I can’t even remember why I did it at the time, but the search bought up the trailer for the TV series and I found out that the first episode was airing just a few hours later. This really was a shock to me as I thought the franchise was dead. So I watched the trailer and thought it looked pretty decent, certainly the best looking thing with the Creepshow name since the original film thirty seven years ago.

 

So here we are, finally. An almost forty year journey from 1982 to 2019, the entire history of Creepshow ends here, or hopefully begins a new chapter. We’ll have to wait and see just how well this new TV series does.

Now, up to this point, I’ve followed a pattern covering the films and stories. I’ve given you the general gist of the tales and then offered my overall feelings at the end. For the Creepshow TV series, I’m doing it the other way around. I’ll give you my general feelings on the show before looking at the stories. See, the films are pretty old now and (mildly) spoiling them is something I don’t really mind doing due to their age. But this show is brand new, just a few weeks old and a lot of people most probably have not yet seen it. So even though I’m not planning on doing major SPOILERS, I’m still offering a warning and will tell you what I think about the series overall before looking at each tale in case anyone out there wants to go into the show blind. So here are my general thoughts on the show without spoilers…

Overall

This show is great, let’s just get right to it here. Executive prouder and show runner, Greg Nicotero is a name any horror fan should know. He cut his teeth doing horror effects work on flicks like Day of the Dead, Evil Dead II and of course Creepshow 2. A former protégé of horror make-up maestro Tom Savini. Greg went on to have a hugely successful career in movies and TV both in special effects and even directing… and a spot of acting too. Anyway, point is that Greg Nicotero is the real deal, he knows his horror and was a massive fan of the original Creepshow flick. Outside of resurrecting the late, great George A. Romero to head up this show, Greg was the next best thing. The attention to detail in the series is perfect Creepshow. From the comic book presentation to the crazy filters and lighting, this looks and feels like classic Creepshow. The series is also full of great little nods and background details that a true fan can enjoy, for example, you remember that marble ashtray that features in all of the stories in the first film? Well it’s in the TV show too, several times. Honestly, I could write an article just on the references in this series. I had a fear before watching Creepshow (series) that it would be Creepshow 3 bad, it’s not, it’s original Creepshow great. Now, not all the stories are brilliant (more on those later) but most of them are. I don’t think there’s a ‘bad’ story in the whole series, just ones better than others. If you’re a Creepshow fan, then this is a must watch.

An so, with that out of the way, it’s now time to take a look at each episode and every story in the show. So one last warning. I’m not going to give away any of the endings, but I will be looking at each story. So stop reading now if you want to avoid even very mild SPOILERS.

Creepshow

Creepshow TV Show Poster

Showing on the online streaming service Shudder, Creepshow first aired on the 26th of September, 2019. The format is each episode is around forty-odd minutes long with two stories per episode. The run consists of only six episodes, but that does mean a total of ‘twelve terrifying tales of terror’ though the whole series. As previously mentioned, Greg Nicotero is the man man behind the TV show as producer but his effects studio, KNB EFX Group provide the make-up work too. Seeing as this is a TV show and not a movie, each episode and even each story has a different director, Greg being one of them. Also directing stories are David Bruckner, Roxanne Benjamin and even the awesome (and Creepshow original alumni) Tom Savini, among others. The Creep is back, but this is original, silent and rotting corpse Creep, not that annoying pun spouting thing from Creepshow 2. Each story is kind of introduced by The Creep, which, as he doesn’t talk, is done via little snippets of The Creep flicking though Creepshow comic books which he finds in a mysterious crate, the infamous crate from the original film. And so onto the first episode…

Episode 1: Gray Matter

The first story, Gray Matter is based on the Stephen King short of the same name. There have been a spate of missing animals (including some Stephen King references) and people recently in a small, almost dead town. A local general store run by Dixie (Adrienne Barbeau) is almost out of supplies as a bad storm rolls in. A distraught teenager enters the store claiming his father is really sick and needs help. Two patrons of the store, Chief (Tobin Bell) and Doc (Giancarlo Esposito) agree to go and check on the boy’s father while Dixie looks after the youngster in the store. Dixie slowly learns exactly what has happened to the boy’s father and the residents of the town, is it too late for Chief and Doc to be saved?

The House of the Head

The House of the Head is a yarn about a young girl, Evie (Cailey Fleming) and her doll’s house. A small family of dolls live in the house, a father, mother, child and a dog. Evie likes to play with the family and the house everyday. When she returns to play with the doll’s house, Evie finds the doll family have moved around on their own. Not only that, but they also seem to be startled by something, the family and whatever is scaring them only move when the doll house is closed and Evie is not in the room. So Evie closes the doll’s house and leaves them alone, but when she returns later, she finds a toy severed head in one of the rooms and that the family’s numbers are beginning to thin out every time Evie is not watching them.

Creepshow TV Show Episode 1

Overall

The first episode gets off to a great start. Both tales are highly entertaining and everything feels like Creepshow. The stories are very creepy with the right amount of horror and dark humour. Gray Matter certainly feels very Stephen King-ish and fits perfectly with Creepshow for obvious reasons and the return of Adrienne Barbeau to the franchise is a welcome one too. The second tale is my favourite of the episode. The haunted doll house scenario has been done before in films and books over the years, but this one feels kind of fresh. I thought it was going down an obvious path, but it eventually didn’t which was a pleasant surprise. Plus Creepshow fans may want to keep a keen eye out for some of the furniture in the doll house. My only gripe with this one is the cheap jump scare at the very end. The story ends perfectly fine with an ominous resolve that works well… but then it throws in a needless jump scare that just made me roll my eyes.

Episode 2: Bad Wolf Down

The first story is set during World War II. A small group of American soldiers find themselves behind enemy lines. When one of the Yanks kills the only son of a high ranking Nazi officer (Jeffrey Combs), he comes looking for revenge. The soldiers find themselves surrounded by Nazis and trapped inside an old and disused police station. The Nazi officer gives the soldiers the chance to surrender for a quick death or stay inside and die as slowly and painful as he can make it. As the Americans search the police station, they find the badly mutilated bodies of several Nazi soldiers and a woman locked in one of the cells who might just hold the key that could get them out alive… kind of.

The Finger

The Finger is a tale about Clark (DJ Qualls) a down and out kind of guy who finds rubbish on the streets and takes it home to find a use for it. One night, on one of his scavenging walks, he finds a strange, inhuman severed finger and takes it home. The finger begins to grow into an arm and eventually a fully formed horrific creature that Clark names Bob. Bob and Clark form a close bond, so close in fact that the little monster begins to kill anyone that upsets his ‘daddy’.

Creepshow TV Show Episode 2

Overall

So Bad Wolf Down is spin on the classic werewolf story. Have you ever seen the film Dog Soldiers? Well this story is kind of like a lite version of that. Some good effects work and a cheeky, cheap but effective way of showing the werewolf transformations. Seeing horror icon, Jeffrey Combs s always a pleasure. I loved The Finger, a fantastic little tale directed by Greg Nicotero. I really don’t want to say too much about this one as it has a really nice sting in the tail at the end. But it’s full of great little touches like breaking the forth wall and having Clark talking to the viewer as he narrates his own story. This one is perfect Creepshow fodder.

Episode 3: All Hallows Eve

It’s the night of scares and fun, Halloween and a group of teenage friends decide to go trick-or-treating. Every year they follow the exact same route through the neighbourhood and always call in on the exact same houses. Only these friends are getting a little too old for the long and fun custom usually for children and decide that this will be their last trick-or-treat tour. Everyone they call on for treats is genuinely living in fear of the teens, this is no fun game, these teens harbour a dark secret. Trick-or-treating is a very, very serious business with a dark motive.

The Man in the Suitcase

The second yarn follows Justin (Will Kindrachuk) who is at the airport waiting for his luggage to turn up. A black suitcase finally arrives at the carousel, which he believes is his… it’s not. Justin takes the case home and after some food and illegal substances, he opens the suitcase. Inside is a very neatly folded man (Ravi Naidu) and he’s alive. The man in the suitcase tells Justin that people are looking for him as he has a very rewarding secret. As Justin tries to move the man and get him out of the case, his bizarre secret is revealed.

Creepshow TV Show Episode 3.jpg

Overall

All Hallows Eve is a great tale. It’s dark, moody and very atmospheric. It’s not made clear exactly what the intention of the trick-or-treating teenagers is and they come across as very unpleasant and malevolent. But by the time the story comes to an end and all is revealed, the teens obsession and reason for trick-or-treating changes your perception. A very clever tale with a good twist. The second story is pretty decent, but for me, it’s one of the weakest of the show. There’s a bit of a mortality tale told in that distinct macabre Creepshow way. It’s tongue is very firmly planted in it’s cheek and offers some light chuckles over horror. A strange and silly story with an even stranger and sillier resolve.

Episode 4: The Companion

Teenager, Harold (Logan Allen) is picked on and beaten up by his older brother, Billy (Voltaire Council)… pretty sure it’s not THE Billy. Anyway, Harold is chased onto an abandoned farm by his bully brother and pulls out a cane that is embedded in a scarecrow in a field before hiding away in the disused farmhouse. The scarecrow comes to life and Harold soon learns where it came from and why the cane is so important. While bully boy Billy gives up the search of his little brother and goes home, the terrified youngster is hunted down by the scarecrow and becomes trapped inside the farmhouse.

Lydia Layne’s Better Half

When Tom is given a promotion to chief financial officer at work by his boss Lydia (Tricia Helfer), her secret lover, Celia (Danielle Lyn) feels she was more deserving of the job. The lovers have a argument that results is the accidental death of Celia. A distraught Lydia knows that if this death get’s out, no matter how accidental, it would mean the end of her high flying career and life. So she decides to try and cover up the Celia’s demise and get rid of the body. Taking Celia’s bloody corpse into the elevator with the plan to get it out of the building before anyone notices, there is an earthquake that results in a power cut which leaves Lydia and her dead lover trapped. She can’t call for help or her life will be ruined, but she needs to get rid of the body.

Creepshow TV Show Episode 4.jpg

Overall

The Companion is a great little tale. Very creepy, very macabre and feels like it came right out of the original film with a fitting Creepshow ending. The scarecrow itself is a wonderful and scary creature with some great, old school effects work. There’s also a great and subtle nod to the The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill story from the first film and another nod to the opening of the original film too. Cracking story. The second yarn in this episode is also a belter, but in a very different way. For the most part, it’s just two people trapped in a lift, but what is done with such a small and cramped space is really impressive as Lydia tries to work out just how she can get rid of the body before anyone notices. There’s a real sense of suspense and terror along with some pretty good scares. Very much put me in mind of The Hitch-hiker tale from Creepshow 2 as Lydia begins to lose control while a dead body could ruin her life. Overall, this was a fantastic episode, pure Creepshow.

Episode 5: Night of the Paw

After being involved in a car accident a badly injured and wanted criminal, Angela (Hannah Barefoot) finds help at a funeral home run by Whitey (Bruce Davison). Whitey patches up and helps his guest who, at first is none to pleased, but soon learns to appreciate the help. As Whitey makes his visitor feel welcome, she begins to open up about her mysterious past. It seems that maybe fate played a hand in bringing them together as Whitey reveals he owns a magic monkey’s paw that grants three wishes. The paw has been used up and is no use to Whitey anymore… but maybe Angela can find a use for it or Whitey a use for her?

 

Times is Tough in Musky Holler

A small town is overrun by the undead and when it’s none to friendly and corrupt Mayor (Dane Rhodes) makes things even worse, residents of the town take matters into their own hands. Capturing and imprisoning the Mayor along with several of his cohorts, the townsfolk turn the tables on him by giving him a taste of his own medicine. Forcing the Mayor and his entourage into taking part in a sick and twisted ‘sports event’ as revenge.

Creepshow TV Show Episode 5

Overall

I think pretty much every anthology horror franchise has had some form of the magic monkey’s paw story, even The Simpsons have done one in their Halloween specials. You know the story of a paw that can grant wishes and the user misuses them to their eventual horror. Well, Night of the Paw is Creepshow’s version and it’s pretty damn effective and original too. Bruce Davison as Whitey gives a wonderfully creepy and yet charming performance who has more than a few secrets of his own that can rival those of his criminal guest and the story does not go on the direction you may think it will at the end. The second story is a bit disappointing to be honest. Aside from some bloody, gruesome effects work at the end, there’s just not a lot going on here. It’s a bare bones tale with a paper thin revenge motif. I feel the backstory to this story (of which there are snippets shown) would’ve been much more intriguing as to just how and why the town became overrun by the undead and just how the Mayor fucked things up so badly. It just feels like a two minute ending dragged out to twenty minutes. Not a terrible tale, just not a very interesting one… with some great and bloody make up effects in the finale.

Episode 6: Skincrawlers

Dr Herbert Sloan (Chad Michael Collins) discovers a revolutionary weight loss method that doesn’t require dieting or exercise. The method can turn an obese person into a chiseled Olympian God in a matter of minutes. When overweight and donut lover, Henry Quayle (Dana Gould) turns up at Herbert’s impressive weight loss clinic and learns just how the amazing results are achieved using giant leaches that suck out the fat, he backs out of the treatment at the last minute. After crossing paths with a previously obese patient who is now super slim, Henry has a change of heart and not only agrees to the weight loss treatment, but also agrees to have it done live on TV. Meanwhile, a solar eclipse is due to plunge the city into darkness which has an effect on the fat eating leeches and just maybe, things will not work out as they should.

By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain

A mother and her children are living in a small house near a lake. Her abusive and often drunk boyfriend, who sees himself as the man of the house brings nothing but misery to the family. Despite the abuse, the mother stands by her boyfriend after the death of her husband while he was exploring the mysterious lake. One of the children, Rose (Sydney Wease) keeps an old scrapbook, the same scrapbook her father kept before his death, something he used to keep notes about things he discovered at the lake, including the supposed existence of a mythical creature living in the lake. Rose refuses to let her father’s death be in vain and soon learns that the undiscovered monster is real… but it’s dead. But can the creature still be of use?

Creepshow TV Show Episode 6

Overall

The first yarn is pure classic Creepshow. Written by Paul Dini, a name Batman fans should recognise. This one ends in an orgy of blood and gore as the truth behind the weight loss programme is revealed. It bloody brutal and darkly amusing with some amazing OTT and old school effects work. This tale wouldn’t feel out of place in the original film. The second tale is written by Joe Hill/King, son of Stephen and Billy from the first film. It’s also directed by the great Tom Savini. So a reuniting of Creepshow originals. This one is a steadily slow tale with a lot of clichéd tropes, bully-boy stepfather/boyfriend, idiotic mother who puts the abusive boyfriend before her own children, nerdy-type daughter and a very predictable resolve. It has a very obvious Loch Ness Monster influence. Despite it’s paint by numbers approach, this is still an enjoyable story, no real surprises here and you’ll know exactly where the story is heading within two minutes. Plus there is a nice bit of bookending going on as the first episode started with a story written by Stephen King while the last episode ends with one from his son.


And that’s it. Almost forty years of Creepshow covered from the original film to the recent TV show. The franchise as a whole is a very mixed bag. The greatness of the original film still holds up today, it’s slightly weaker and disappointing sequel is entertaining enough. And the third film is a perfect example of how not to make a sequel and how to completely disrespect Creepshow fans.

The Creep 2019.jpg

However, this new TV show shows great potential. Only six episodes and twelve stories, but for me, I feel that’s just the right amount. Seeing as American TV shows tend to go on for far too long and outstay their welcome with seasons running into dozens of episodes, it’s nice to see one that dials things back a bit. Now I’ve seen the whole show, I’m excited for more instead of being bored. I really hope there is a second season next year. Greg Nicotero and everyone involved have done an amazing job putting a smile on this Creepshow fan’s face. If you’re a fan of the original film, then check out the Creepshow TV show, it’s far better then I thought it would be.

Quick update: Great news, Creepshow has been renewed for a second season.

Creepshow Season 2.jpg

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Creepshow: The Whole Bloody And Macabre Saga Part I

Now I hadn’t actually planned on doing this article at all. I’ve been busy writing my multiple Halloween articles for this year as well as other writing projects I’m currently busy with too. But a few weeks back, I learned there was a Creepshow TV series and I watched it and… well I’ll get to that later.

Anyway, as I watched the TV show, it occurred to me that I’ve never really covered Creepshow on this blog. It’s has a few passing mentions here and there. But never really looked at the film(s) in detail. As I continued to watch the weekly episodic show, I realised that by the time it ends, it would be Halloween, the final episode airs tonight on the 31st of October (nice timing). Then I thought that maybe I could squeeze in a viewing of all the Creepshow films a long with the TV show and do a big ole’ Creepshow retrospective.

So here it is, my look at Creepshow… all of it. After a quick intro…

Okay, so I love Creepshow… the first film anyway. I’m a sucker for anthology story telling and have written a few short stories myself (find them on Amazon, search S. L. Perrin). For me, Creepshow is the finest of the horror anthology films. The success of the movie meant a sequel was a certainty and the Creepshow franchise was born. While not a huge franchise, Creepshow has a strong and loyal fanbase even now almost four decades since the original film was released back in 1982. Taking inspiration from the old 1950s EC Comics, the films tell multiple horror themed tales of terror with just the right amount of very dark humour. And with that, it’s time to take a look at every single story in the Creepshow franchise from all the movies and right up to the recent TV show as I offer my view on each of them. This is going to be a big one.

A guess a quick SPOILER warning before I start as most of the tales told in the films and TV show normally have some kind of stinger ending, though I’ll avoid going into too much detail for the stories and won’t give away the endings, but I’ll still offer a mild SPOILER warning just in case.

Creepshow

Creepshow Poster

Released in 1982 and bringing together three of the best names in horror cinema of the era. Directed by George A. Romero, written by Stephen King (based on his short stories and he also wrote the screenplay) and with make up effects by Tom Savini, the holy trinity of 70s and 80s horror at the very top of their game. Creepshow features five stories… well six with the wrap around prologue and epilogue. Each story is presented in a comic book style and often use filters, and strange lighting effects to give it a real comic book feel.

Prologue

Billy (Joe King, Stephen’s son) loves comic books, particularly horror ones. When his father (Tom Atkins) discovers Billy reading his latest comic, Creepshow, he comes down hard on his son as he doesn’t want him reading that “crap” as he calls it and throws the comic out in the rubbish. Billy is sent to his room where he wishes his father rots in hell. Just then, the skeletal The Creep from the cover of Billy’s comic comes knocking on his bedroom window…

Father’s Day

The first story of Creepshow tells the tale of a cantankerous old patriarch of a rich family called Nathan (Jon Lormer). The family gather for a dinner to remember their father who died some years previously. His eldest daughter, Bedelia (Viveca Lindfors) is running late and stops off at the cemetery to have a heart to heart with her long deceased and abusive father and a bottle of whiskey. As the story unfolds, it’s revealed that it was Bedelia who killed her own father, Nathan after years of incessant demands and emotional abuse and after he killed Bedelia’s lover in an ‘accident’. It was during Father’s Day and after Nathan kept bullying and bugging Bedelia for a Father’s Day cake when she finally snapped and bludgeoned her own father to death with a marble ashtray (quick bit of trivia, the ashtray appears in all five stories and the wrap around). As Bedelia has it out with her dead father at his grave, finally letting him know how his abuse and death of her lover affected her she spills the bottle of whiskey onto his final resting place. The whiskey (for some reason) brings Nathan back from the dead and he sets out to get that Father’s Day cake he’s been craving for so long.

Creepshow Father's Day

This is a great opener and really sets the tone for what Creepshow is. It’s scary but jet black funny too. Father’s Day is everything a Creepshow story should be and it’s one of the best stories in the entire franchise. Be on the lookout for a then unknown Ed Harris and his ‘dancing’. It also has some very moody and atmospheric cinematography, especially in and around the graveyard.

The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill

Jordy (Stephen King) is a redneck, backwoods yokel who sees a meteorite crash down in his backyard. Thinking the discovery will bring him riches… well at least $200 to pay off a bank loan, he tries to pick up the meteorite but it’s too hot to touch. So Jordy decides to throw a bucket of water over the space debris to cool it down… only this just makes it crack and break open. Rendering his get rich quick (well $200) scheme redundant. However, his touching the meteor makes an organic, plant-like substance slowly grow on his fingers where he made contact with the space rock. After a while, the plant-thing spreads and grows on everything Jordy has touched. His house becomes overgrown with the stuff as does his body. It begins to itch and agitate to a point where Jordy thinks the best thing to do is take a bath… but water just makes things even worse…

Creepshow The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill.gif

When I was younger, I hated this story and always felt it was the worst of the (at that point) two films, but over the years it has grown on me (pun very much intended). I’ve grown to really appreciate Stephen King’s goofy acting and think he does a fantastic job. Considering that aside from a couple of very minor characters, he carries the whole story and is a joy to watch. It’s much more comical than the other stories in the film and works well as a bit if comic relief.

Something to Tide You Over

Richard Vickers (Leslie Nielsen) is a man who seems to have everything, money, property (he owns a beach), a nice house and a beautiful wife… oh and he’s also a very sick psychopath. When he learns that his wife has been having an affair with a younger man called Harry (Ted Danson), Richard pays the man a visit and manages to convince his wife’s lover to join him on his beach so they can ‘talk’ about this affair. On the beach, Richard has pre-dug a hole and persuades Harry, with the help of a gun, to get into it telling him he just wants to incapacitate him. With Harry in the hole, Richard begins to fill it up, burying Harry up to his neck. Richard then reveals he had already done the same to his wife earlier in the day further down the beach. He also says that as the tide is coming in, if Harry holds his breath then maybe the sea will loosen the sand he could break free… maybe. Richard sets up CCTV so he can watch his nefarious plan live as Harry slowly drowns and joins his lover, Richard’s wife who he had already drowned the same way earlier that day. The next day and Richard returns to the scene of his crime but no Harry or wifey, the tide must have pulled them out. At least that is what Richard thinks happened.

Creepshow Something to Tide You Over.jpg

I love this story, best in the film for me. Leslie Nielsen is a pure joy to watch as the sick and twisted Richard Vickers. Everyone always remembers Nielsen for his comedic roles, Police Squad/The Naked Gun, Airplane!, etc. But for me, this is the role I’ll always remember him for. It also features some really amazing make-up effects by Tom Savini.

The Crate

When a college janitor discovers a mysterious crate under the stairs from an Arctic expedition, he calls Dexter Stanley (Fritz Weaver), one of the college’s professors to come an investigate. The pair pull the crate out and attempt to open it. Inside is a Yeti-like vicious creature that attacks and kills the janitor. Dexter escapes and flees the scene to tell his friend and colleague Professor Henry Northrup (Hal Holbrook) all about the monster and killing. Henry is married an overbearing wife Billie (Adrienne Barbeau) who ruins all his fun, she is obnoxious, emotionally abusive and always drunk. Henry comes up with a plan to rid himself of his wife, with a little help form the killer creature in the crate.

Creepshow The Crate

This one is pure Creepshow. While not my favourite of the five stories, it does come in at a very, very close second place. It’s bloody, brutal and still darkly funny to boot. Adrienne Barbeau is devilishly enjoyable to watch as the horrible wife and Henry’s fantasies of killing her are both funny and disturbing. Then of course there is the main star of the story… ‘Fluffy’, the creature in the crate. A horrible little bastard but somehow, still leaves you wanting to see more.

They’re Creeping Up on You

The fifth and final story of the film… not including the epilogue. This one is about a rich and ruthless businessman, Upson Pratt (E. G. Marshall) who suffers from mysophobia (an irrational fear of germs). He locks himself away in his hermetically sealed apartment controlled by a computer. His doors use electronic locks and he only really sees the outside world via CCTV, with contact only made via telephone or his intercom service. A severe storm knocks out the power in the city and eventually a blackout hits his tower block. His computer goes haywire and seems to have a problem with bugs… literally. He notices a cockroach, something that strikes fear into Upson, but one little bug is no problem. Soon, the cockroaches multiply and his germ-free, high cost apartment is suddenly overrun by the insects. Upson locks himself away in his seemingly bug free panic room, which perhaps was not the best idea.

Creepshow They're Creeping Up on You

There is no such thing as bad story in Creepshow… but this is the weakest of the lot. It’s a creepy story alright, but it just seems to lack the punch the others had. I didn’t find this one particularly scary or funny in that macabre way that Creepshow does so well. It just feels like a bit of a weak way to end. But E. G. Marshall as Upson Pratt is a joy to watch, the best thing about this tale.

Epilogue

It’s now the morning after poor Billy was sent to his room by his father for reading the Creepshow comic. A coupe of binmen are emptying the bins on the street when they discover the thrown out comic and begin to look through it. They find a few ads in the comic for gag props, x-ray specs, that kind of thing. They learn that a postal order for a voodoo doll has already been cut out and presumably send away for. Back inside the house and Billy’s father complains about suffering neck pain, the pain keeps gets worse and worse…

I liked this wrap around story. It’s not as in-depth as the main five of the film, but it works as a great into and outro, a nice little way to bookend the whole thing. One of the binmen is played by the great Tom Savini, make-up genius, part-time actor that he is. Oh and did you spot the marble ashtray in all of the stories?

Overall

I honestly love this film. Still the best anthology horror film made for me. It’s just the prefect blending of horror and deeply dark comedy that works. The performances are solid throughout and as I said before, there isn’t a ‘bad’ story in the lot. The comic book presentation really works well and pay a wonderful homage to those classic EC Comics the film was inspired by. You can even buy the actual Creepshow comic… well graphic novel. Written by Stephen King and based on the film. A must own for any Creepshow fan.

Creepshow 2

Creepshow 2 Poster

This sequel took a pretty long time to emerge, by movie standards anyway. Released in 1987, five years after the first film and things have changed. Directed by Michael Gornick, no George A. Romero this time, though he did write the screenplay. The tales are still based on Stephen King short stories though. Another change is that (due to budget issues) there are only three stories over the five from the first film. Oh and the presentation is also slightly different. The comic book idea is still kind of there and so is the prologue/epilogue concept, but now each story is inter-cut with an animated interlude telling the story of Billy… I’ll cover those along with the three main tales. Oh and The Creep himself is vastly different too.

Prologue

So Billy (I don’t know if it’s supposed to be the same Billy from the original, as it’s a different actor) is eagerly awaiting the latest copy of the Creepshow comic. A truck pulls up on the street and a strange man throws out a wrapped package. At which point, the film turns to animation as the package opens to reveal the all new Creepshow comic, the cover of which is the ending scene of the first film… complete with Billy (so they are not the same Billy then?). The delivery man reveals himself to be The Creep… but he looks nothing like The Creep from the first film (is it the same Creep, I just don’t know?). Honestly, the whole opening makes no sense. Anyway, Billy starts to read the latest edition of Creepshow

Old Chief Wood’nhead

So the first story tells the tale of an elderly married couple, Ray (George Kennedy) and Martha Spruce (Dorothy Lamour) who own and run a small town general goods store. Ray is too kind to the local folk and often lets them run up tabs they never pay, much to the disgust of his wife. One of their regular customers is Benjamin Whitemoon (Frank Salsedo) is a Native American elder who comes to the store to settle his debts and offers the Spruce’s his tribe’s most scared jewels as a collateral for payment. Ray reluctantly accepts the treasures and Martha is proven very wrong about the locals… if only for a while. Later that night and Benjamin’s estranged nephew, Sam (Holt McCallany) turns up at the store with a couple of friends and takes back the jewels by force. Both Ray and Martha are killed via Sam’s shotgun. The front of the store features a wooden statue of a brave Indian chief who doesn’t take too kindly to the killing of the people who have looked after him for so many years.

Creepshow 2 Old Chief Wood'nhead

This is a nice little opener. George Kennedy is always a joy to watch and gives a great performance as the overtly trusting Ray. This is nothing more than a very basic revenge story but with a twist. It doesn’t quite have that Creepshow magic, but a good yarn none the less.

Interlude 1

Billy is at the post office picking up a package, he sent off for one of those gag props from a previous Creepshow comic. He get’s slightly belittled by the worker who scoffs at Billy for paying good money for a fake gag from a comic before handing him the parcel. Billy tells him that it’s a bulb for a carnivorous Venus flytrap before leaving the post office as The Creep sets up the next yarn.

The Raft

Four teenage students decide to go for an illicit swim at an abandoned lake. In the middle of the lake is a floating wooden raft, which the teens make a beeline for to soak up some sun. As they swim toward the raft, they notice a large black oil slick type thing that is seemingly coming after them. The students soon find themselves trapped on the wooden raft as the killer oil slick thins out their numbers until only one remains.

Creepshow 2 The Raft

Yeah, there’s not much to this tale. It’s basically an 80s slasher film done in a really short space of time. Not a bad story, but for me it’s the weakest of the three. Nothing really stands out here, but nothing is terrible either. It just kind of exists. The make up effects work is top-notch though with some pretty gruesome gore. Plus there’s a bit of a stinger ending that does leave a bit of a smirk on my face.

Interlude 2

So Billy is heading home after picking  up his carnivorous Venus flytrap bulb from the post office. He is ambushed by a group of bullies who steal his parcel and smash it on the ground, one of the bullies then crushes the bulb with his foot. Billy is enraged and kicks the bully in the baby-maker before fleeing. The bullies give chase and that’s when The Creep introduces the final story.

The Hitch-hiker

Trophy wife, Annie Lansing (Lois Chiles) is cheating on her husband with a male escort… who can provide six (count ’em) orgasms. Annie realises that she is running late and needs to get home before her husband. She gets in her car and speeds off homeward, in a race to get back before her wealthy attorney. Annie is tired… from the extra marital sex and the fact it’s late at night and begins to yawn, as she does she drops her lit cigarette and panics. Annie loses control of the car as it swerves and smashes through road makers. She struggles to regain control of the car and hits and kills a hitch-hiker. No one else is on the road, no one saw what happened and so she speeds off into the night. A passing truck driver (Stephen King) stops at the scene of the crime and does see Annie’s car drive off into the night but it’s too dark to make a positive ID. As Annie goes over the incident in her head, practising making excuses for her husband to explain the damage to the car, see spots the very same hitch-hiker she just killed, he’s just not going to give up on a ride.

Creepshow 2 The Hitch-hiker

You know the saying “they saved the best for last”? Well this is true of this tale. The Hitch-hiker is by far the best story in Creepshow 2. It’s dark, horrific and yet still funny in that very dark vein of humour kind of way. The make-up effects on the hitch-hiker as the story progresses are beautifully twisted and bloody, he also has the most quotable line in the entire film. Special mention has to go to Lois Chiles playing Annie as she slowly goes mad as the events unfold. Her little chats to herself as both funny and disturbing. Just as a little bit of trivia to finish. When making the first Creepshow, the final story ran into some production problems and Stephen King suggested they make The Hitch-hiker the final tale for that film instead. But the issues were eventually worked out so and They’re Creeping Up on You did make the final cut of the film. But just imagine how much better Creepshow (which is already amazing) could’ve been if it ended with this tale instead?

Epilogue

And so we reach the end of Billy’s story. He is still being chased by the bullies and Billy leads them into an overgrown area with weeds and bushes. Just as the bullies set about beating the crap out of Billy, several giant Venus flytrap plants appear and eat the bullies. Suggesting that Billy had previously planted them and purposelessly lured the bullies to their deaths. The film then switches from the animated Billy story back to live action as The Creep throws out copies of the Creepshow comic from the back of a truck for all to read as the truck drives off.

Overall

I remember being really disappointed by this when I first saw it. It’s not on the same level as the original and it’s budget drop over the first one is most definitely seen on screen. But I think I’ve mellowed on it over the years. It’s not great, but it’s okay and entertaining. My main gripe (aside from the uneven story telling and presentation) is The Creep played by Tom Savini. He just does not work here. In the original, The Creep is this silent, skeletal but scary figure with a lot of character. In this sequel, he talks, looks nothing like The Creep should and makes crappy unfunny puns and jokes when linking the stories. They tired to add character to him, but ended up just making him annoying. The little Billy animated tale is rather flat too. I just much preferred the look, style and tone of the original. Creepshow 2 is okay, it’s not awful, but…

Creepshow 3

Creepshow 3 Poster.jpg

So here we are.. oh dear. I’ll make my feelings very clear in this sequel at the end of this one, but spoiler warning… I really, really don’t like this film. There was a much longer gap between sequels this time around as Creepshow 3 was released in 2006. That’s a nineteen year long gap since the last film. Everyone of any talent are gone, no more George A. Romero, no more Stephen King and certainly no more Tom Savini. Directed by Ana Clavell and James Dudelson (don’t worry, I’ve never hard of them either), Creepshow 3 gets very little right, but one of the things is does get right is to go back to the original film’s set up. Five stories with an prologue/epilogue wraparound. So here we go…

Prologue

So to be fair, this isn’t so much a prologue, but more of an intro that displays just how bad the film will be. A short and badly done animation shows a hooded child walking the streets of Creepville, the fictional town all the stories take place in. The animation shows little references to the five main stories including a mysterious hot-dog salesman, before we are thrown into the first proper story of the film.

Alice

A rather self-centred and obnoxious teenager, Alice returns home after a day at school. Her family are relaxing in the living room as her father begins playing around with one of those universal TV remote control things. As he presses the buttons, the family go through various changes such as turning Hispanic. Alice is the only one not affected by the remote control and sees her family continually change with each button press. Well she is kind of affected as each time the family change, Alice mutates. She sees and tries to talk to Professor Dayton, the archetypal brains of the town, to understand what is gong on. Alice soon finds herself back home and everything appears to be normal again, she’s no longer mutating and her family are as they were. Then her father presses the off button on the remote control.

Creepshow 3 Alice

I seriously have no idea what this story is actually about. Why is the TV remote changing Alice’s family, why does she mutate, what involvement does Professor Dayton have? Seriously, no idea what is going on here or what the story is trying to say.. if anything at all. It just seems like a bunch of stuff that happens for no reason. There’s some allusion to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, the girl is called Alice, there’s a white rabbit. I don’t know, the story is utter nonsensical even for Creepshow. Aside from some almost half decent effects work as Alice mutates, this tale has nothing going for it at all.

The Radio

Security guard, Jerry buys a radio from a homeless man on the street. When Jerry gets the radio back to his place, it begins to talk to him. The radio convinces Jerry to commit crime, including murder. He eventually makes a run for it after the police begin to investigate his crime spree, taking with him a hooker who lives in his apartment complex. The radio then tells Jerry to kill the hooker or she will kill him, advice he refuses to take.

Creepshow 3 The Radio.jpg

This yarn is okay, well okay by Creepshow 3 standards anyway. It has one of those ‘careful what you wish for’ kind of morals running through it as Jerry gets a taste for his criminal activities and lusts for more and more until he loses control of his life. A bland and uninteresting story that is wasted as it had a bit of potential.

Call Girl

Call girl Rachel receives a request from Victor who requests ‘servicing’. But Rachel is no ordinary lady of the night, she’s a murderer. She kills her potential customers and really, really enjoys it too. When she arrives at Victor’s home, she gets to work right away, handcuffing him to this bed and then stabbing him in the chest. She then goes for a shower to clean up, only she begins to hear Victor in her head, is he really dead?

Creepshow 3 Call Girl

This one is dire, not as bad a Alice for it’s ineptitude of telling a story but still bad enough. It gets a little bloody with some half decent effects. It’s a silly and asinine story that doesn’t really offer anything worth shouting about, it’s just about watchable I suppose.

The Professor’s Wife

Professor Dayton receives a visit from two former students, they have come round meet his much younger fiancée. The students are aware that Dayton has been working on a robot for the last twenty years and assume that his new bride to be is that very robot. When Professor Dayton leaves the house, the students decide to take the robot apart to see just how it works.

Creepshow 3 The Professor's Wife

So I think this is the best story in the film, which isn’t saying much really as the others set the bar so low. But this at the very least has a small semblance of a Creepshow tale. Not a great yarn, but somewhat watchable with that mix of cheeky humour and horror that Creepshow is known for.

Haunted Dog

The final story tells of the cruel and careless Dr. Farwell. He ridicules the patients at the clinic where he works and makes them feel worse then when they went to see him. He buys a hot-dog from a street vendor, which he drops on the floor. Not wanting to waste the food, he gives it to a homeless man as an ‘act of kindness’. The homeless guy begins to choke and Dr. Farwell just walks away as he dies in the street. But the dead man returns to haunt the bad doctor.

Creepshow 3 Haunted Dog.jpg

This almost feels like a remake of The Hitch-hiker story from Creepshow 2… almost. There’s even a similar line said in this that is a kind of throwback to that other tale. This is no where near as well written or made as The Hitch-hiker, not at all, but it just has a similar vibe to it. Not a good watch at all, like pretty much all the other stories, so at least it’s consistent.

Epilogue

This one wraps up in a kind of ensemble finale where characters from the five stories all interact as Professor Dayton finally get’s married and the hot-dog vendor is revealed as being The Creep… only a really bad version of him using some awful CGI.

Overall

Creepshow 2 was definitely a step down from the original, but while it disappointed me, it’s still watchable and is entertaining. Creepshow 3 is not so much a step down, but more a case of it’s fallen of the ladder from a great height and slammed into the ground, creating a huge mess. This is awful, no other way to describe it. The stories are bland, the acting is atrocious and the effects work mostly look like something the great Tom Savini would throw out as rejects. If there is one thing about Creepshow 3 that I enjoyed, then it’s probably how all the stories tie together. Characters from one yarn will appear in another as all of them take place in the same small town. References and nods to the other tales can be found peppered though the film that work to link everything together. Quite honestly, that aspect is rather well done. But everything else is fucking terrible. The Professor’s Wife is about the only Creepshow feeling story in the film and even then, only just barely. I kind of think it’s worth watching Creepshow 3 just to see how badly the franchise fell. Honestly, watch the original and then watch this directly after. The drop in quality, the lack of any talent both behind and in front of the camera is painfully apparent. Creepshow 3 is the perfect example of how to ruin a great concept.


Creepshow Comics

Well, this article is getting a little lengthy and there’s still more to cover with the new Creepshow TV series and all of it’s episodes (plus a little bonus too). So I think I’ll split this one into two parts to give both you and me a bit of a break. Plus the fact that as of the time of publishing this, I’ve not yet seen the final episode of the TV show, it airs in just a few hours. So I’ll see you in part II.

 

The End Of Little Bits?

So I’m starting New Year with a possible goodbye, or at least an au revoir.

I’ve been writing this blog for a while now and enjoyed it immensely. I’m eternally grateful to anyone who has been following/reading and surprised I still get new folk following on a weekly basis.

But things are changing here at WordPress who host this platform… money things. See, I pay a subscription every year to keep this blog going and WordPress are changing what you get for your money. Basically they want me to pay the same amount but are removing features I currently get with the package I pay for – to then charge extra for those features. And after some thinking, I don’t believe what they now want me to pay to keep this site with the same features is ultimately worth it.

Money.jpg

It’s not just the WordPress greed that is forcing my hand though. Maybe the planets have just aligned at the right time? See, this blog has always been just a fun hobby for me – I didn’t expect one follower, never mind the amount I do have. 2018 saw more people reading my inane rants and views than ever before. But as I say, this was always just a hobby. My real passion lies with writing books.

Last year I shared my idea to write a book covering the best of British game developers & publishers. And by November, I’d finished the first draft of that book. I’m currently trying to sell the idea to get it published while I work on the second draft. Plus I’m two thirds the way through writing my first novel. A vigilante thriller that’s not as straight forward as it first seems. Then I’m currently writing my second short story collection as well as outlining future book ideas. Basically, I have a hell of a lot of writing ahead of me.

Old vintage typewriter

This is what I want to do – write. Last year I wrote more in those 12 months than I have the previous two years combined. So with WordPress wanting more money and my interests lying in my books – I’ve decided not to renew my current premium account when it expires on the 17th of April, 2019.

I do work full-time, have a 14 month old daughter, write books and with this blog too – I’m just spreading myself way too thin right now and something needs to be dropped.

Now this doesn’t necessarily mean the end of Little Bits of Gaming & Movies for good. I’m not going to delete the site and all my articles will still be available, plus I can still write on this blog as and when I want – I still have 20 draft articles I’ve not published. But the domain name will change as I’ll no longer be paying for it as well as some other behind the scenes stuff too that will limit my options when I drop the premium package and go the free route instead. I’ll be concentrating on my books through 2019 and this blog will just be a background thing I can dip into now and then. They’ll be fewer articles overall as I turn my attention to bigger things. But who knows what the future holds?

If my writing career kicks off, I’ll quit the day job and be a full-time writer. If that happens then I’ll have more money and more importantly, time to invest into my hobby of writing this blog. Maybe, just maybe if things work out, Little Bits of Gaming and Movies will be back bigger than ever with me able to really create something better. Maybe a whole new blog that binds my love for games, movies and my writing?

I definitely don’t want to completely close the door on this. I really do enjoy writing this blog but needs must and my dreams and aspirations lie elsewhere right now.

Thank you

But I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who’s followed me and to anyone who sits there reading my views and opinions from you folk who’ve been around for years to the ones who have only just begun following in the last few weeks or so.

Little Bits of Gaming and Movies will be hibernating for a while. Occasionally waking up with the odd article through the year, but mostly sleeping through 2019.

Die Hard Movie Retrospective

Throughout the year I’ve been celebrating 30 years since the original Die Hard was released. I’ve covered a non-existent plot-hole, taken a look at some Die Hard trivia, compared the film to the novel it was based on, looked at every Die Hard game released as well as some Die Hard rip-off movies and I have even offered my opinion on the age old query as to whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie or not. Plus I have had a few nods and references to Die Hard in numerous other articles I’ve written through 2018. Yet as this year draws to a close, there is one thing I have not yet done. I’ve not done a retrospective on the films themselves.

Well with 2018 in it’s last few days and 2019 just around the corner. I can’t really end this year long celebration of 30 years since the first film was released without taking in all the films can I? I took part in my annual tradition of watching Die Hard on Christmas Eve with a glass (or three) of Jack Daniels and I’ve watched the rest of the films between then and now to make my way through the entire franchise. So here it is, my Die Hard movie retrospective. So, come read my blog, we’ll get together, have a few laughs…

Die Hard

Die Hard

Released in mid July of 1988, directed by John McTiernan and written by Steven E. de Souza & Jeb Stuart. The film that catapulted the then relatively unknown Bruce Willis into super stardom and cemented him as one of the most recognisable action stars ever.

Die Hard tells the story of John McClane (Bruce Willis) who is an everyday cop from New York. McClane is in L.A. to meet up with his estranged wife Holly Gennero (Bonnie Bedelia) at a Christmas party held at her place of work, Nakatomi Plaza. McClane is very much a fish out of water and doesn’t mix too well with the suits of Holly’s workplace. After asking for a place to clean up, terrorists seize control of Nakatomi Plaza taking all party goers hostage along the way, all except McClane who manages to sneak away unnoticed.

The terrorists are lead by the charismatic Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) who makes the police and FBI run through the rule book – only his intentions are not exactly what the police are anticipating. As Gruber and his men unleash their plan, McClane finds himself fighting against the odds to save to hostages, his wife and even himself as all hell breaks loose.

Die Hard is an all time classic. It is a Christmas film? Yes, for me it is… but it’s also just a great picture regardless – Christmas or not. Bruce Willis is brilliant in the role and really shut a lot of naysayers up who doubted his ability to hold a film like this back in 1988 as a leading action star. John McClane became a genuine action icon after this film and went on to appear in all the sequels too. Bonnie Bedelia playing Holly is also a joy to watch, she’s a ballsy character who takes no shit from anyone, including the leader of the terrorists himself, Hans Gruber.

Hans Gruber

Speaking of which, Gruber is quite possibly one of the greatest on screen villains ever… if not THE greatest. Alan Rickman’s performance is nothing short of pure fried gold. Gruber is charming, smart and charismatic… but then he’s also ruthless and will let nothing get in the way of his plan. He’d be just as conformable talking to you about designer suits and articles from Forbes magazine as much as he would putting a bullet between your eyes. You’re not supposed to like bad guys in films, they are called bad guys for a reason. Yet, with Gruber, you can’t help but fall in love with him a bit. This was Rickman’s first movie roll after moving to America from England and I personally do not think he ever bettered it. This is Alan Rickman at his finest on screen.

Back in 88, Die Hard blew people away. You have to bear in mind that the 80s was a decade when action films were very cookie cutter, each one being hard to distinguish from the other. You had the big, muscle bound action hero who would take on an army of bad guys with a gun that never needed reloading while the hero would emerge from the battle with nothing more than a smudge of dirt on their face. McClane was nothing like that, he was just a guy and one who had to use his brain as much as his gun – a gun that would run out of bullets. The plot of Die Hard is easy to explain and yet it’s not exactly straight forward either. There are twists and turns as McClane learns why the terrorists have crashed the Christmas party. Even when you know what is going on, there are still little bumps and surprises along the way that make you try to second guess both McClane and Gruber’s next move in this dangerous game of cat & mouse.

Die Hard – Best Scene

Die Hard is a movie chock-full of action set pieces, to pick one great action scene from several great action scenes is not easy… so my favourite scene isn’t an action one at all. Mine is one much more grounded.

Die Hard Bathroom

It’s after McClane and Gruber meet face to face for the first time, after Rickman does his best American accent to pass himself off as a Nakatomi Plaza employee, after the whole “shoot the glass” bit that leaves the barefoot McClane running over broken glass in an attempt to escape. When McClane is sitting there in the bathroom pulling shards of glass from his bloody feet. He gets on the walkie-talkie to Sgt. Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson) who has been supporting McClane since the shit hit the fan. McClane comes to a realisation, that there’s a good chance he’s not going to make it out of this alive. So he asks Powell to find his wife (“don’t ask me how by then you’ll know how.”) and he tells Powell, to relay a message to Holly… “Tell her that, um, she’s the best thing that ever happened to a bum like me. She’s heard me say “I love you” a thousand times. She never heard me say “I’m sorry.” I want you to tell her that, Al. Tell her that John said that he was sorry.”.

That scene is heartbreaking and for an action film, you just don’t see the hero break down like that. The hero in an 80s action film never doubted he would survive, he never asks someone to find his wife to tell her he said he’s sorry in the midst of the action. This is one of the major elements I love about the film – these human moments that show McClane as an everyday guy. The acting from Willis is top-notch too. Brilliant scene.

“I wanted this to be professional, efficient, adult, cooperative. Not a lot to ask. Alas, your Mr. Takagi did not see it that way… so he won’t be joining us for the rest of his life.”

– Hans Gruber

Die Hard 2: Die Harder

Die Hard 2

The massive success of the first film meant a sequel was a given. And 1990 saw the release of Die Hard 2: Die Harder. Reuniting several of the cast but with new director at the helm with Renny Harlin.

John McClane is back and on Christmas Eve, two years to the day after the Nakatomi Plaza incident, history repeats itself. McClane arrives at Washington Dulles International Airport to pick up Holly who is flying in from L.A. At the very start, McClane’s car gets impounded by the airport police and this is just the start of his troubles. While sitting at bar, he sees two people acting very suspiciously and decides to investigate. After getting involved in a shootout in the baggage area, McClane learns that one of the men he killed is an American soldier who was apparently already killed in action years earlier. Things just do not add up.

McClane soon discovers that ex-U.S. Army Special Forces Colonel William Stuart has taken over control of the airport along with his cohorts. Stuart wants to see the release of General Ramon Esperanza, a well known drug lord and dictator into his care. As Stuart and his henchmen do their best to disrupt the airport, McClane gets to work doing what he does best, taking out the terrorists while trying to save Holly who is still in a plane circling the airport and fast running out of fuel.

Die Hard 2 Meet

Die Hard 2: Die Harder is a very solid sequel. It’s familiar and yet fresh, it keeps very much to the staples that made the first film so damn good while also mixing thing up a bit along the way. The plot twists as it progresses and things are not as black & white as they first seem. It lacks the originality the first film has… but of course it does, its a sequel – but overall, it’s a damn good watch and for me, the best sequel in the franchise.

The cast, once more are great. Of course Bruce Willis as McClane is a joy to watch as is Bonnie Bedelia as Holly who is just as ballsy as she was in the first film. Then there is William Sadler as the main villain, Colonel Stuart. He’s no Alan Rickman, no Hans Gruber but a very enjoyable performance none the less.

The film kind of lacks that claustrophobic/enclosed setting of the original with McClane having the run of an entire airport – yet things are still restrictive. I mean, it’s not as if McClane could just walk out the front door leaning his wife stranded in the air waiting for the inevitable plane crash.

Die Hard 2: Die Harder – Best Scene

Kind of similar to the first film, my favourite scene is not one of the many action set-pieces. I’ve gone for one of the more human scenes that show McClane as just a guy. It’s after the Windsor flight 144 plane crash caused by Colonel Stuart. After McClane does all he can to try to prevent it, after he walks through the wreckage and sees a child’s stuffed toy. At that moment, he doesn’t know who’s plane it is, could’ve been his wife’s.

Die Hard 2 Windsor

It then cuts to McClane sitting there in the control room of the airport a silent, broken man. Just as with the first film, he feels useless. He did all he could and yet an entire plane full of people, including children are dead. There’s no awesome and well written line of dialogue. In fact, it’s quite the opposite and very quiet with hardly a word spoken. It’s just a man realising he is just a man and no matter what he does, it may not be enough.

“Just once, I’d like a regular, normal Christmas. Eggnog, a fuckin’ Christmas tree, a little turkey. But, no. I gotta crawl around in this motherfuckin’ tin can.”

– John McClane

Die Hard with a Vengeance

Die Hard with a Vengeance

There was a five year gap between sequels this time and 1995 saw the release of the third film in the franchise. Not only did Bruce Willis come back, but director of the original flick, John McTiernan also returned. So did the reunion create a film worthy of the original?

By now McClane and Holly are separated, she’s doing well in L.A. while he is still working as a cop in New York. When we first meet McClane in the film, he’s recovering from a hangover and on suspension from the force.  This is a John McClane on the edge with nothing no lose. Enter the mysterious Simon (Jeremy Irons) who blows up a department store in New York and specifically asks for McClane to try to stop him. Simon has McClane jumping through hoops and if he does not comply, Simon will blow up another location. While following Simon’s strict instructions, McClane crosses paths with Zeus Carver (Samuel L. Jackson) an the two are dragged into the mad bomber’s dangerous game.

It’s latter revealed that Simon is the brother of Hans Gruber from the first film and it seems he is out for revenge over the death of his sibling who want’s McClane dead… or does he? As McClane and Carver are forced to run around New York stopping/defusing bombs, Gruber’s grand plan is revealed and it seems the apple does not fall far from the tree when it comes to the Grubers.

Die Hard with a Vengeance Simon

Okay, so I have a serious love/hate relationship with Die Hard with a Vengeance. Is it a good picture? Yes, it’s bloody entertaining. The flick literally opens up with an explosion and the action does not let up after that until the credits roll. The story is great and has twists and turns along the way. Is it a good Die Hard film though? Well that’s a more difficult question to answer. It’s got John McClane in it, it connects to the first film with the whole Gruber brother thing… but that’s about it really. They could have released this as a Bruce Willis flick with him playing a generic action hero and it would’ve worked either way.

The film just lacks something and I’m not really sure what that something is. There’s brilliant chemistry between Willis and Jackson, they honestly come across as a great coupling trough the film. The plot does a good job of not being too obvious and has some great twists. Irons is a fantastic bad guy and does feel like Hans Gruber’s brother.

But I think my main problem with the film is just how “convenient” everything is. In the first two flicks, you see and feel McClane having to work things out, you see the cogs in his head grind away. In this, things just happen and he just so happens to be in the right place at the right time. Gruber just so happens to plant the bomb in the same school Caver’s nephews attend (despite the fact Carver was never part of Gruber’s initial plan), McClane just so happens to find the most knowledgeable truck driver in the whole of New York who helps him solve a clue, The bit where McClane is shot out of the aqueduct via water pressure from an exploding bomb he couldn’t predict – and just so happens to be randomly shot out at the exact time and the exact place Carver just so happens to be driving past. Or what about the fact McClane’s buddy just so happened to use his badge number as lottery number picks and how one of the bad guys kills said buddy and takes his police badge to wear… then McClane just so happens to notice said police badge while in a tricky situation that clued him into the fact the guys he is with are the bad guys?

They could’ve called this one Die Hard with a Lot of Plot Convenience. There are other moments too where things just happen because the script says so and McClane has things work out very nicely for him along the way. Things like McClane having to be told who Simon really is, when I feel that is something he should have worked out for himself. Plus I feel this film marks the dumbing down, the decline of the franchise – something the next two sequel revel in.

Die Hard with a Vengeance – Best Scene

There is no genuine human moment in this film that shows McClane as the every day guy is. But perhaps my favourite scene is one where McClane is just being McClane.

Die Hard with a Vengeance Train.jpg

It’s just after the subway train crash via one of Gruber’s bombs. After Carver has the altercation with the rookie cop (“I have to answer this phone.”). All hell breaks loose as the bomb explodes, the subway train derails and swings out casing untold damage, people run for their lives as the subway car tips over onto it’s side and crashes to a halt and it looks like no one would’ve survived that. Then McClane just pulls himself out of the wreckage laughing to himself in disbelief over he fact he’s still alive. That laugh, that McClane laugh is just perfect and adds a nice light-hearted moment to an otherwise intense scene.

“Yeah, Zeus! As in, father of Apollo? Mt. Olympus? Don’t fuck with me or I’ll shove a lightning bolt up your ass? Zeus! You got a problem with that?”

– Zeus Carver

Live Free or Die Hard

Live Free or Die Hard

I was happy with just the three flicks, the previous one was okay and has it’s problems but still served as a satisfying end to the trilogy. But they just couldn’t leave it alone and McClane was brought back in 2007. This time directed by Len Wiseman.

McClane finds himself in Washington, D.C. with expert computer hacker Matt Farrell (Justin Long) in the midst of a major cyber attack headed up by Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant) and his team of cyber terrorists. Gabriel aims to hack into government and commercial computers all over the U.S. and disable the nation’s infrastructure. Of course McClane and his new sidekick stop the bad guys.

This film has it’s fans… I’m not one of them. It’s just not Die Hard. It’s a very generic action film with none of the heart or charm of the previous ones. The plot is bland, the main villain is forgettable and McClane is just not McClane. He’s no longer the everyday cop fighting against the odds, he’s become an indestructible super hero. I mean going back to my favourite scene of the first film with McClane asking Powell to find his wife and apologise – it’s a fantastic scene that shows just how “human” he is. This film has McClane going up against a F-35B Lightning II fighter jet as a freeway crumbles around him… and winning. It’s just stupid, it’s a stupid film.

Live Free or Die Hard Jet

I said about Die Hard with a Vengeance that it marked the dumbing down and the decline of the franchise – but this film takes that to a whole new level.

Live Free or Die Hard – Best Scene

The ends credits, I could not wait for this film to end. Lets move on.

A Good Day to Die Hard

A Good Day to Die Hard

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse… it does. So he’s back once more, this time directed by John Moore and released in 2013. Oh dear…

So now McClane is in Russia where he meets up with his estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney). the father and son team up to and find themselves entangled in a global terrorist plot… and I’m bored already.

The previous film was bad but it’s watchable – just barely. This is fucking atrocious. You can always tell when I really don’t like something as the paragraphs get shorter as I really don’t want to give the film any more attention.

A Good Day to Die Hard – Best Scene

There’s this really amazing scene near the end with McClane driving a truck out of the back of a helicopter. It’s a beautiful designed and shot scene that explores the depth and the McClane character… nah, utter bollocks. The film is shit with no best scene. Even the end credits aren’t worth it.

McClane

Old McClane

Well there’s yet more as the sixth film in the franchise is in production as I write this simply called McClane. To be directed by Len Wiseman who also directed Live Free or Die Hard. The plot isn’t fully known right now but it has been said this will be both a sequel and prequel in one film.

There will be present day scenes starring Bruce Willis playing an ageing John McClane, possibly retired? But the film will also flashback to New Year’s Eve 1979 and tell the story of young John McClane as a rookie cop in New York. Details are thin on the ground right now, there are no specific story details or even a release date yet.

To be honest, I’m not at all interested in this one. For me, the franchise died a long time ago. I have little interest in seeing an 60 year old John McClane and I have even less interest in seeing a 20-something version too. I’ll just stick to the first two films and depending on my mood, the third one. If I want to watch a young McClane, I’ll just re-watch Die Hard.


 

That’s me done for 2018 folks. Just want to say a big thanks to everyone who has been reading my scrawlings over the last 12 months. I do enjoy doing these articles and I hope you enjoy reading them.

New Year

Have a great New Years, whatever you get up to.

See you in 2019…maybe…

Good And Bad Die Hard Rip-Offs

When it was released in 1988 (happy 30th), Die Hard was a revelation in action films. It took a lot of the clichés most other action films were guilty of overusing and turned them on their head. Die Hard blew film-goers away and can still hold it’s own against other actions films released now. It became as massive success and went in to spawn a huge franchise in it’s own right, not just with movies – the sixth of which (called McClane) is in production as I write this. But there were Die Hard games, comic books and all sorts of memorabilia. And I’ve been celebrating three decades of Die Hard all this year with numerous articles covering the film. 

Die Hard Art

Credit to Chris Weston over at Xombiedirge.com for this amazing fan-art.

The staggering success of Die Hard gave birth to an often used motif in action cinema, the Die Hard rip-off. For years and still even today, whenever an action film is released that features a usually lone hero going up against bad guys and normally in a confined setting, it gets lumbered with the “Die Hard on/in/at a…” label. So in no particular order or preference, here are some good and bad Die Hard rip-offs. 

Skyscraper – (A.K.A Die Hard In A Skyscraper)

Skyscraper

No, not the recent Dwayne Johnson flick of the same name, this is the 1996 Skyscraper  that took the idea of Die Hard and set it in a skyscraper… like Die Hard. Implementing the now often overused idea of the gender swap and making the hero and heroine. Starring cough “actress” Anna Nicole Smith and swapping the human and everyday main with a heart characteristics of John McClane with big tits.

Anna Nicole Smith plays Carrie Wink, a helicopter pilot who finds herself caught up in a plot involving terrorists and something to do with electronic devices… I’m not 100% sure what the plot is about to be honest or of there really is one. I’m pretty sure this film only exists to show-off Ms Smith’s breasts, at least they are the only two things I remember about the film anyway.

This is bad, this is really, really bad. But I guess Anna Nicole Smith was nice to look at.

Sudden Death – (A.K.A Die Hard At A Sports Stadium)

Sudden Death

This Jean-Claude Van Damme starring flick came out in 1995 and has “The Muscles From Brussels” taking on bad guys till Sudden Death. Released when Van Damme as at the top of his game and making a name for himself as a bankable action hero.

Set in a hockey arena, Van Damme plays fire marshal Darren McCord (its almost McClane) who attends a big hockey game with his son and daughter. While at the game, a group of terrorists arrive and hold various V.I.Ps  hostage in a luxury suite. McCord steps up to save the day and the lives of his children as the terrorists plan on blowing up the stadium when the hockey game ends unless their demands are met. 

To be honest, this one is half decent. I do love some JCVD and while this is far from his best, it’s also far from his worst. Plus you get to see JCVD kick a penguin.

Passenger 57 – (A.K.A Die Hard On A Plane)

Passenger 57

From 1992 comes this high octane and cliché ridden (such as using phrases like “high octane” to describe and action film set on a plane) picture with Wesley Snipes. At the time Snipes wasn’t really known for action flicks but soon became an action star after this one… a bit like Bruce Willis with Die Hard really. 

John McClane… sorry, John Cutter played by Snipes is a retired United States Secret Service agent who now teaches self defence to flight attendants. While struggling to come to terms with the death of his wife during a botched robbery, Cutter is offered a new job as the vice president of a new anti-terrorism unit. Cutter is the 57th passenger on a flight to Los Angeles (where was Die Hard set again?) to attend a meeting regarding his new job. Oh and on the same flight is psychopathic terrorist Charles Rane being escorted by two FBI agents. Shortly after take off, things go wrong when Rane and his cohorts take control of the plane leaving Cutter to save the day.

Snipes is a good action star and this was his first proper stab at the genre. The plot is very predicable but it’s a good film overall. Always bet on the one that isn’t red.

Air Force One – (A.K.A Die Hard On A Plane)

Air Force One

Yes even the Die Hard rip-off begin to rip-off the rip-offs eventually. This one is from 1997 and stars the legend that is Harrison Ford. An impressive all star cast join Ford in this high octane (sorry) action flick set in on the most famous plane in the world.

So Ford plays U.S. President James Marshall (J.M, John McClane?) who after attending a diplomatic dinner in Moscow, boards Air Force One to return to America. Only for Russian terrorists posing as the press to seize control of the plane and take hostages. Marshall is rushed to an escape pod for his own safety… only he never leaves and stays on-board to save the lives of his wife and child along with the other hostages.

So you’ve got Harrison Ford, a legendary action hero – going up against Gary Oldman, a legendary bad guy. Ford mumbles his way through the film as Oldman chews the scenery like he’s not eaten in a month… and it’s glorious.

Con Air – (A.K.A Die Hard On A Plane)

Con Air

Okay so now the rip-offs are ripping off the rip-offs that are ripping off the rip-offs… I think. Also from 1997 comes this other high octane (last one I promise) plane based action film. With Nicolas Cage in the main role.

Cage is Cameron Poe, an Army Ranger who’s honourably discharged after killing a man who tired to attack his pregnant wife. Poe serves ten years in prison but is paroled two years early. He has to take his final trip home to reunite with his wife and see his daughter for the first time, as a prisoner aboard The Jailbird – a flying prison transport along with several other prisoners being transported to other jails. Of of course the bad guys take control of the plane leaving Poe to clean up the mess.

Of all the Die Hard on a plane rip-offs (there’s a lot of them), this is my favourite. Cage is brilliant as the hero with a heart plus you have John Malkovich playing the main villain. 

Under Siege – (A.K.A Die Hard On A Boat)

Under Siege

“I’m just a cook”, Steven Seagal liked to tell people back in 1992 as he continually punched people in the face on board a Navy battleship in Under Siege. At least it made a change from a plane right?

So Seagal plays Casey Ryback, he’s just a cook (honest) on board the USS Missouri. A musical band land on the battleship to entertain the troops… only they turn out to be a band of mercenaries who take control of the ship. As it turns out, Ryback is a little more than just the cook (he lied) as he’s a highly trained and experienced Navy SEAL who specialises in anti-terrorism tactics. So of course he kills the bad guys, gets the girl and saves the day. Not bad for a cook.

Perhaps one of the most famous rip-offs when people knew who Steven Seagal was. Again an enjoyable romp, nowt too special but fun… just avoid the terrible sequel.

No Contest – (A.K.A Die Hard At A Beauty Pageant)

No Contest

Yeah you read that right. Just think of all the locales already mentioned and where one could set a Die Hard rip-off… would you think a beauty contest would work? This one is from 1995 and stars very soft porn actress Shannon Tweed… she’s married to Gene Simmons you know?

Yeah this is as bad as it sounds. Tweed plays kick-boxer/actress Sharon Bell who while at A Miss Galaxy beauty pageant, fends off a gang who take hostages. The gang demand diamonds as a ransom or they’ll… zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz… Sorry dozed off for a while there. Oh errrrr, Robert (“Agent Johnson, no the other one”) Davi from Die Hard is in it.

This is fucking atrocious, I mean – this is Die Hard 4 & 5 levels of bad. Even worse, they made a sequel… don’t look it up.

Icebreaker – (A.K.A Die Hard At A Ski Resort)

Icebreaker.png

It’s time to hit the piste as Sean Astin plays Matt Foster – the cough “hero”. Released in 2000 a year before people would finally recognise Sean Austin as a Hobbit.

So everything is going great at the Killington ski resort. Foster, one of the resort’s Ski Patrol is seen as a bum by his soon to be father-in-law. Enter terrorist Carl Greig who takes control of the ski resort/. The plot has something to do with radio active material stolen from Russia or something. I really lost interest in this one, can’t really remember the plot if I’m honest. But whatever happened in the plot, Foster gets the chance to impress his fiancé’s father when he saves the day.

Dull film with a bland plot. Still, Bruce Campbell plays the main bad guy and that’s the only good thing about the film.

Speed – (A.K.A Die Hard On A Bus)

Speed

Very few of these Die Hard rip-offs are any good. Some of them are terrible, most of them are okay and a handful of them are fantastic. Speed is definitely one of the greats. Released in 1994 when the Die Hard rip-off still felt fresh and starring John Wick, sorry Keanu Reeves.

Reeves plays Jack Traven a young SWAT officer who finds himself trapped on a bus armed with a bomb after he thwarted a previous attempt to extort money via the use of a bomb by madman Howard Payne. When the bus hits 50 MPH, the bomb is armed and if it drops below 50, it blows up killing all on board. Pop quiz, hotshot. What do you do? Traven teams up with plucky bus driver, Annie to save the hostages on board the bus as well as themselves.

The chemistry between Keanu Reeves’ Jack Traven and Sandra Bullock as Annie is wonderful. The action is exiting and well directed. Plus you have legendary Dennis Hopper playing the mad bomber. When it comes to Die Hard rip-off, they don’t get better than this… the sequel though?

Command Performance – (A.K.A Die Hard At A Live Gig)

Command Performace

From 2009 comes this written by, directed by and starring Dolph Lundgren flick. The film is said to be (very loosely) based on a true story where Madonna performed a special live gig for Vladimir Putin… only with a large sprinkling of fantasy.

So the Russian President asks pop sensation Venus (Madonna/Venus, get it?) to perform an exclusive gig as his daughters are big fans. Lundgren plays Joe, an ex-biker, turned drummer who has to save the day when terrorists turn up at the concert and take the President, along with others as hostages. Joe teams up with young Russian agent Mikhail Kapista to kill the bad guys and save the hostages.

Dolph Lundgren is a drummer in real life and I’m pretty sure the only reason this film exists is so Lundgren can show people he can really drum… and do it well too. Just a shame the film isn’t as good as his drumming. This is one of those very mundane Die Hard rip-offs. It’s not terrible, its far from great – it just kind of is.


 

Well there you have it, a few good, and more than a few bad Die Hard rip-offs. Trust me, there’s a lot more out there – I’ve only just touched on a handful of the more famous ones as well as highlight some of the not so famous ones… Die Hard at a beauty pageant, seriously?

Die Hard Art Feet

More stunning fan-art from Chris Weston at Xombiedirge.com

Next up in my celebration of 30 years of Die Hard, I’m tackling the big one, a subject I’ve avoided for a long time. It’s December so it just seems right that I offer my own opinion on that yearly debate and eternal question that is, is Die Hard a Christmas movie?

40 Years Of Halloween: Part II

Today is Halloween and I’m back with the second part to my Halloween retrospective. After several years of terrible, terrible sequels, will things get any better?

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later

Halloween H20 20 Years Later

So here we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the original Halloween film with a film that was released to celebrate the 20th anniversary. (Ohh, we’re half way there
Oh-oh, livin’ on a prayer!) Released in 1998 and directed by Steve Miner (known for his work on the Friday the 13th franchise). This ones sees the return of Laurie Strode who was killed off in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and the first film in the continual story of Michael Myers without Dr. Loomis.

So the film begins with Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens) who was the assistant of Dr. Loomis from Halloween and Halloween II. She finds her home has been broken into. Marion discovers the file on Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has gone. The missing file held info on the presumed dead Laurie and her new identity of Keri Tate. Michael soon turns up, kills Marion and escapes with the file.

Now living in California Laurie Strode/Keri Tate is the headmistress of Hillcrest Academy, a private boarding school. She has moved on with her life after faking her death via a car accident to put her history behind her. Still haunted by the events of 1978, Laurie/Keri finds it hard to adjust to her new life fearing her brother Michael could return… and he does. Most of the students and teachers of Hillcrest Academy have gone on an overnight field trip to Yosemite National Park leaving only a skeleton staff at the school. However, a few of the students stayed on at the school to have a secret Halloween party in the school’s basement.

Of course the inevitable happens as Michael Myers arrives at the school to hunt down his sister… again. Michael sets about thinning out the student population and eventually comes face to face with his sister for the first time in twenty years. Laurie soon finds herself fighting for her life once more as well as trying to protect her teenage son.

My View

So this one kind of confuses me a little. Its said to be a sequel that ignores anything from Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers to Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers and is a direct sequel to Halloween II – which is fine, I have no problem with them doing that. There is no mention of Laurie’s daughter, Jamie from the previous three films which of course there shouldn’t be if the events of the other films didn’t happen in this timeline… but they do point out that the car crash that supposedly killed Laurie in Halloween 4 was faked. So there is continuity with the previous films. But if the previous films never happened, then why make that connection?

Well turns out that there was a direct connection. The original script was written with a scene where a student in one of Laurie/Keri’s classes does a report on the “Haddonfield Murders” and even goes into detail about Jamie Lloyd, Laurie’s daughter from the previous films. The report also details how Laurie “died” in a car accident and how Michael Myers eventually tracked down his niece and killed her. At this point, a clearly shocked Laurie/Keri leaves the classroom and throws up. Its also worth noting that John Carpenter was even set to return as director as Jamie Lee Curtis wanted to reunite, but when he asked for a $10 million directors fee (after believing he was cheated out of royalties), he walked when a deal could not be made.

Halloween H20 20 Years Later Laurie

Anyway, this was released during the resurgence of the slasher film in the 90s thanks to Wes Craven’s Scream (1996). The difference is though that Scream was self-aware, it was making fun of the genre while also paying respects to it. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later just is not that clever and comes across as another bog-standard slasher flick. Don’t get me wrong, its not a bad film at all and definitely one of the better sequels in the franchise but its also nothing special.

Its great to see Jamie Lee Curtis back in the role that made her famous two decades previously and you know what? I’ll even go so far as to say the story idea is a good one too, but overall the film just needed “something”. The previously mentioned Scream had that “something”, that hook to pull you in. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later is just very one note, very mundane and lacks punch. Its predictable, its a bit bland and really offers nothing new. Michael Myers turns up and kills teenagers… that’s about it. Its all very 90s with predictable jump scare after predictable jump scare. The last 10 minutes or so is pretty good though.

As I said, Jamie Lee Curtis is brilliant well worth watching. Plus she has the best scene in the film and one for a horror nerd such as myself to enjoy that is full of trivia. Jamie shares some screen time with her real-life mother Janet Leigh. Of course Janet famously played Marion Crane in Psycho. The character Janet is playing this film is called Norma, which was the name of Norman Bates mother from Psycho, plus the car Janet has in the scene is the exact same car she had in Psycho and even has the same license plate. Then (if you listen carefully) you’ll hear a few bars of the Psycho music play in the background.

“He sat in a sanitarium for 15 years, waiting for me. Then… one rainy night, he decides to go… Trick or Treating”

– Laurie Strode

Halloween: Resurrection

Halloween Resurrection Title

Released in 2002 from director, Rick Rosenthal who also directed Halloween II. This one picks up a few years after the previous film with Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) now a patient at Grace Andersen Sanitarium after accidentally killing paramedic at the end of the previous film whom she believed was her killer brother, Michael Myers.

Acting in a catatonic state, Laurie is secretly readying herself for the return of Micheal. On Halloween night 2001, Michael breaches the security at the sanitarium and gets to Laurie. She lures him into a trap on the roof and is moments away from killing her brother (again) when he gets the better of her. Michael stabs Laurie and drops her off the roof – finally completing his mission of over twenty years. Yes, Laurie Strode is now dead.

The next year and some university students win a contest to appear on an internet reality show called Dangertainment and is set to be filmed in Michael Myers’ childhood home. The show is directed by directed by Freddie Harris (Busta Rhymes). Of course Michael turns up and systematically kills the students while everything is being broadcast on the internet.

My View

This is bad, this is Halloween 46 level of bad. So lets get the only good thing about the film out of the way first. Jamie Lee Curtis back as Laurie Strode for the final time (in this continuity anyway). Yeah she’s good. Its only a small cameo role in the opening but at least it is the opening so once she’s gone you can switch the film off and watch something else instead. Jamie only agreed to do this film as long as they finally killed Laurie off as she didn’t want to appear in any more Halloween film after this… yeah, about that…

Even then, her death is not 100% definite as while she is stabbed and dropped of a roof, you don’t actually see her die on screen. She just disappears into a tree during the fall. The writing of this film is god awful and you can tell that from the terrible way they retcon the ending of the last film to suit this one. It turns out that Laurie didn’t kill Micheal at all and he swapped places with a random paramedic. You know you’re in for a bad time with this when the continuity is so damn bad that the recap at the start of this shows Laurie and Michael (not really him) drive off in an ambulance that looks nothing like the one from the end of Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, its not even close. Let this lack of detail be a warning for just how lazy and incompetent the rest of the film will be.

Halloween Resurrection Michael Myers

Stupid characters doing stupid things being killed by a stupid killer. The film is stupid. I mean, there a scene were one of the students throws black pepper in Micheal’s eyes to stop him… and it works too. This is the same Micheal Myers who has been shot multiple times, blown up, stabbed in the eyes and still kept going – but black pepper is his weakness? Halloween H20: 20 Years Later was hardly a great film, it was watchable with some okay moments and a pretty good ending. This film does away with all of that, the retconing of the good ending of the previous film is an insult and the finale to this with Busta Rhymes getting into a fistfight with Micheal Myers while saying “mother fucka” a lot is embarrassing.

There was an idea to make a sequel to this with Laurie Strode’s son from Halloween H20: 20 Years Later seeking out Micheal for revenge over killing his mother. But as this film flopped hard, the producers quickly abandoned that idea and decided to go a different route…

“You’ve heard of the tunnel. The one we all go through sooner or later. At the end, there’s a door. And waiting for you on the other side of that door is either Heaven or Hell. This that door.”

– Laurie Strode

Halloween

Halloween 2007

So the last film all but killed the franchise off, plans to make more sequels were scrapped in favor of a remake. Enter director Rob Zombie to get this film released in 2007. The baisc plot is the same as the original flick, but this one mixes in a little Halloween II as well. Young Michael Myers kills his older sister Judith and is sent to Smith’s Grove Sanitarium where he becomes a patient of Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell).

Fifteen year later, Micheal escapes the sanitarium and makes is way back to his old home in Haddonfield to continue his killing spree. Dr. Loomis teams up with  Sheriff Brackett (Brad Dourif) to try to track Micheal down. Along the way, Loomis learns that Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) is really the sister of Micheal and soon works out that she will be is next victim.

My View

I said in the first part about the original film that I’m not a huge fan. I like the film, I think its damn good… but I just don’t love it. So get ready with the pitchforks Halloween fans because I think this remake is a better film than the original. Yeah I said it. Not that the film doesn’t have its problems, it does. Some of the dialogue is a joke with every other word being “fuck”, a lot of the redneck characters grate at times and at a little under two hours it can be a long film for what it is. But that said, there’s a hell of a lot of great stuff in the film too.

You’ve got amazing actors such as Malcolm McDowell who is the perfect replacement for Donald Pleasence as Dr. Loomis. Honestly, he’s brilliant in the role. Then you have Brad Dourif, Dee Wallace, William Forsythe and Ken Foree. There is a great cast here. I  love how this is really a film of two parts. The first part telling the history and backstory of the young Michael Myers (Daeg Faerch) and just why he turns put the way he does. Then the second half is pretty much where the remake kicks off proper with grown up Michael killing teenagers.

Halloween 2007Michael

The film can be tense at times with some genuine scares, something not seen in a Halloween film since Halloween III: Season of the Witch back in 1982. Where as the original was mostly bloodless, this one turns up the gore factor to eleven… but its a Rob Zombie film so what where you expecting? The picture is clearly made by someone who loves and respects the original but still wanting to do their own thing with it. Its a good film, its a good remake and for me, its better than the original as this version has a story that extends to more then just killer killing teenagers.

“Inside every one us, there exists a dark side. Most people rise above it, but some are consumed by it. Until there is nothing left, but pure evil.”

– Dr. Loomis

Halloween II

Halloween II 2009 Title

Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake was panned by critics, yet it still pulled in an impressive $80 million worldwide on a $15 million budget. Success meant sequel and Rob Zombie returned to continue his vision in 2009. Pretty much all the cast from the first film returned and this one picks up directly where the last film left off. After killing Micheal Myers, a shocked Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) is found covered and blood wandering around the streets by Sheriff Brackett (Brad Dourif) and she is taken to hospital. Michael’s body is put in the back of an ambulance and taken to the hospital, only he’s not really dead. He wakes up as the ambulance crashes into a cow.

The film jumps ahead two years and Laurie is now living with Sheriff Brackett and his family. Laurie begins to have nightmares of Michael and the events of the first film. Meanwhile Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) writes a book based on the events and his experiences of the previous film. Micheal Myers has been in hiding and having visions of his dead mother and his younger self who tell him to bring Laurie home. So he heads back to Haddonfield.

My View

I really enjoyed the first film (and I mean Rob Zombie’s first Halloween film), but this? What a fucking mess. Its trying to be clever, psychological, cerebral and it fails at all three. I’m pretty sure the only reason the idea of this film came about was because Michael’s mom is played by Rob Zombie’s wife, Sheri Moon Zombie. As he always puts her in his movies and as she died in the first one, I’m sure the thought process was ‘Need to get the missus in the film, but she died in the first one… make her a ghost. Problem solved’. Then the film was written around the idea of Michael’s mom’s ghost.

Honestly, the whole film makes little sense. The plot is nonsensical, the story is pathetic. Its just all over the place with no clear direction. How did Rob Zombie mess this up so badly when he nailed it first time around? Its a real shame as the film gets off to a great start, the opening and scenes in the hospital are really well done. Its just a shame it all goes very wrong very quickly after that.

Halloween II 2009 Michael

The good bits? Obviously the performances from both Malcolm McDowell and Brad Dourif and that’s about it really. Oh the soundtrack is pretty great too. Other than that, best to avoid this one. I didn’t like it when I first saw it back then, I like it even less after re-watching it for this retrospective. I’m not damning the film for doing something different, I like different, that’s why Halloween III: Season of the Witch is my favourite in the franchise, because its different. But this, this is just pretentiously silly and stupid.

For almost a decade, that was it, no more Halloween. Until…

“Hey, world! Guess what. I’m Michael Myers’ sister! I’m so fucked!”

– Laurie Strode

Halloween

Halloween 2018

Okay so this is the third film in the franchise to be simply called Halloween. The 1978 original, the 2007 remake and now this. Directed by David Gordon Green and sees the return of Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode. Set forty years after the original and ignores every film in the franchise except the original flick. So really this is Halloween II but a different Halloween II to the 1981 sequel and 2009 Halloween II sequel of the remake. Phew.

So Michael Myers has been locked away in the Smith’s Grove Sanitarium since he was stopped at the end of the first film and captured. Dr. Loomis dies years ago and so Dr. Ranbir Sartain (Haluk Bilginer) has taken over as Michael’s doctor. Two true-crime podcasters turn up at the sanitarium to interview Michael armed with his original mask form forty years before. They fail to get anything out if him despite mentioning the very person who stood up to him and survived his killing spree four decades ago, Laurie Strode.

Still desperate to get a story, the podcasters go to interview Laurie herself. This is when we learn of her PTSD, failed marriages and that she has a daughter and granddaughter. The family is strained and the relationship between mother, daughter and granddaughter broke down several years earlier. Laurie is given the chance to speak to Michael before he is transferred to a maximum security prison, which Laurie declines.

Dr. Sartain accompanies Michael Myers as he is transferred along with several other prisoners. Only for the bus carrying the inmates to crash, Michael escapes, tracks down those annoying podcasters, kills them and gets his mask back before heading back to Haddonfield and to Laurie. Meanwhile, Laurie learns about the crash and finds herself fighting for not only her own life but also those of her daughter and granddaughter. But Laurie hasn’t been sitting quietly knitting for the last forty years, she’s been preparing for Michael’s return.

My View

Okay so to be completely honest, I’ve not yet seen the new film. Since becoming a father last year, my cinema visits have been cut back to pretty much none. I managed to go see Bohemian Rhapsody a few days ago and that was my first time in a cinema since I watched Logan in March 2017 over a year earlier. So as I’ve not seen the film, I can’t really offer a view of it can I? I was hoping to squeeze in a viewing before doing this retrospective but it didn’t work out.

Still, while managing to avoid spoilers, I have read a few reviews and the feedback has been largely positive. The film sounds pretty damn good and Jamie Lee Curtis has been getting a lot of positive praise too. I’ll most probably have to wait until the home release before I do get to watch Halloween. At least they got John Carpenter to return for this one. Even if only as composer, executive producer, and creative consultant. He’s been directly involved in the franchise for the first time since 1982. I’m looking forward to this one if/when I eventually get to see it.

“Michael Myers killed 5 people. And he’s a human being, we need to understand. I’m twice divorced, and I’m a basket case.”

– Laurie Strode


 

Well there you have it, the entire Halloween franchise. forty years of films that are mostly terrible. I have a great deal of respect for the original even if I’m not its biggest fan. I fucking love Halloween III: Season of the Witch and think Rob Zombie’s remake was fantastic… but that’s about it for the whole series. A total of eleven films and only three that I think are truly worth watching. The new film does look and sound great, but as I’ve not yet seen it, I can’t really pass judgement – that will have to wait for later.

As an overall franchise, Halloween has many more disappointments than worthy pictures. Pretty much all horror franchises get tiresome fairly quickly with bad sequel after bad sequel and in that respect, Halloween is not one of the worst offenders. Even the absolute worst of the films still have some redeeming quality be it Donald Pleasence as Dr. Loomis, Jamie Lee Curtis returning several times or even the opening 10-15 minutes of the god-awful Rob Zombie’s Halloween II. Its a decent franchise, I just wished they had gone the anthology idea route after Halloween III: Season of the Witch as we could have had a great variety of Halloween based flicks for the last few decades instead of the same old crap of Michael Myers killing teenagers.

 

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Hellraiser: Judgment…Finally!

At the end of my Hellraiser retrospective from last Halloween, I mentioned how a tenth film in the franchise – Hellraiser: Judgment had been completed but not yet released. Well now the flick has finally been released. But the big question is, what is worth the wait?

Well seeing as I covered every film in the franchise from start to end, I guess I have to sit thought this one as well, even if just for the sake of completion. What demons (aside from Americans not being able to spell ‘judgement’ correctly) does this film hold. Is it on par with the first two films, is it a worthy sequel…or am I about to return to the depths of hell that was Hellraiser: Revelations?

Well I can’t put this off any longer so here it is.

Hellraiser: Judgment

Pinhead

From writer/director/actor Gary J. Tunnicliffe comes the tenth film in the Hellraiser movie series. Tunnicliffe is a bit of a Hellraiser veteran as he started out as a make-up artist on Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth through to Hellraiser: Hellworld – so he’s been a part of the franchise for many, many years. This flick marks his first time sitting in the director’s chair but not his first writing credit in the series as he wrote the previous film Hellraiser: Revelations. So with so such a deep pedigree within Hellraiser – he must know what he’s doing right?

Okay so its synopsis time. The film starts in Hell with Pinhead (Paul T Taylor) and The Auditor (Gary J. Tunnicliffe) discussing how they can update and evolve their soul harvesting methods. Technology on Earth has evolved over the last few decades or so and humans are no longer interested in solving the puzzle boxes that open gateways to Hell.

Meanwhile on Earth, two brothers Sean (Damon Carney) and David Carter (Randy Wayne) who are detectives are investigating a series of brutal murders based on the Ten Commandments by a killer known as “The Preceptor”. They are joined by Detective Christine Egerton (Alexandra Harris) and they discover links to a known criminal, Karl Watkins (Jeff Fenter) who has gone missing. While they go searching Watkins’ last known location, Sean falls unconscious and wakes in Hell to be saved by the angel Jophiel (Helena Grace Donald). Sean escapes Hell but not before taking the infamous puzzle box with him. But the Cenobites are not going to let Sean escape quite so easily.

My View

This film follows the same tradition of the last few Hellraiser sequels, that its one of those ‘straight to DVD’ pictures. So who this “The Preceptor”, the person going around killing people? Well its meant to be kept secret until an ‘unexpected’ reveal…but if you have an IQ over 4 than you’ll work it out pretty quickly – lets just say that Sean is depicted as being a detective with numerous problems…

The Auditor

Gary J. Tunnicliffe needs to stick to make-up effects – he’s amazing at those and this film does feature some truly stunning visuals as he was also the make-up effects designer for this one. There are some impressively disgusting moments that do feel very, very Hellraiser and I can not sing the praises of this film in that regard enough. But…he just can’t write or direct. The last flick, Hellraiser: Revelations was also written by Tunnicliffe and it is fucking terrible. The plot was bland and the characters were flat, just as they are here too. This is such a ‘meh’ film that I just can’t get either annoyed or excited about it.

I think the idea behind this one was to reboot the franchise and try to start anew, they even left it open for a sequel with one of those annoyingly popular posts credits scenes – but it fails on every level (aside from the effects work). I really enjoyed Paul T Taylor as the new Pinhead – he’s no Doug Bradley sure, but he’s certainly a hell of a lot better than Stephan Smith Collins from Hellraiser: Revelations. And that’s about it for anything good about this one. Its not the worst of the Hellraiser flick, not even close – but I can’t say its any good either. It’s Hellraiser: Hellworld quality, its a film that just exists when it doesn’t need to.

Pinhead: “Obsolete. Irrelevant in an age when desire has become amplified but where lust can be sated electronically. We need something more than just a wooden box.”


The franchise has two options from this point. Either just let it die (please no more sequels), its been on its last legs for decades now and needs to be put down. Or just let Clive Barker back in. He wanted to remake his original a few years back but the studio didn’t think that was a good idea – but green-lit all the terrible sequels since then?

This film was bad and I feel a little depressed after going through the whole franchise. But I do have one big reason to celebrate…I have no more Hellraiser films to watch and my Hellraiser retrospective is complete!

Tear Apart