Tag Archives: Halloween

Halloween 2006

It’s October. It’s dark and cold and rainy and you know what that reminded me off? Halloween is coming up again. And like every year, I will get myself some Halloween style candy and watch good movies late at night. Currently on the list for this year:

1. [The Thing from Another World](/2002/10/14/the-thing-from-another-world-1951/) – It’s a tradition.
2. The Monolith Monsters – An old 1950s style science-fiction movie.
3. Donnie Darko – A time travel/parallel worlds scary movie.

It’s a work day night so the movie marathon won’t be too long. I will write reviews for The Monolith Monsters and for Donnie Darko afterwards.

Halloween 1

What movie would be more appropriate to my series of Halloween reviews than, well, the movie “Halloween”. This classic with young “scream queen” Jamie Lee Curtis is probably the best known example of the slasher sub-genre of horror movies.

For those who don’t know the story: 15 years after he killed his older sister, Michael Myers returns to his little Ohio hometown to follow his murderous instincts.

Hey, I pretty much just summed up the entire movie in one sentence. I had never seen this one before, except maybe possibly on TV. When Olav suggested it for my Halloween reviews I was actually quite eager to finally watch it. Olav is going to disagree with me on this, but to be quite honest, I think this movie sucks.

For about the first sixty percent we get to see what seems like a typical Halloween day. Kids being kids (that is, tormenting each other); teenagers being teenagers (getting stoned behind the wheel, being horny, and so on), all that sort of stuff. In between we have the good Doctor Loomis who’s trying to convince everybody that Michael Myers is “evil” because, well, he doesn’t really have any evidence but he just **knows** the kid is evil.

So after a while the plot thickens, and eventually, some of the girls buy the farm. Some naked breasts in between, and one of them, like all great movie sluts, dies after having sex (which by the way must have been the minute waltz. I guess the 70s were really quite naive and harmless when it comes to movies). The showdown is quick, harmless, and to the point. The end is predictable as it can be – especially when you know that Halloween spawned an entire series of movies.

I realize this movie’s supposed to be a classic, and maybe it even managed to scare someone once upon a time. But unfortunately for Mr. Carpenter, Halloween does not stand up to the test of time. I’m genuinely trying to think of one moment during the entire movie that scared me, and frankly, find none. I will be gentle with Mr Carpenters work; I am sure a great deal of this is that (a) the plot of the movie was pretty much known ahead of time and (b) the slasher format has been copied again and again until one is nowadays seriously tempted to suggest that anybody proposing to finance another slasher movie should have his own throat cut in a graphic manner. This would probably do the world more good than another clone of Halloween.

There are many old horror movies that are still scary today, but Halloween unfortunately isn’t one of them. It’s probably a must-see simply because it started the slasher craze, and because Jamie Lee Curtis is proof that a woman gets either more good looking with age, or with money.

Let me add a few words to the very simple DVD edition I watched. It was the German version and was bare of any extras. A few text pages about actors and the director are rendered in a yellow-blue combination that is so painful on the eyes that they could actually be the most frightening part of tonight’s cineastic experience. Browsing Amazon it seems that at least three editions of the Halloween DVD were produced. Hopefully some sort of collector’s edition has nicer extras. Halloween is one of the movies I’d really have loved to hear an Audio commentary of. There wasn’t even an English audio track. At least, they restored scenes that were obviously cut from the original release – they were not dubbed, but merely subtitled. I can barely manage to imagine just how horrible the movie must have been without these – quite essential – scenes.

Note: One interesting tidbit is that one of the horror movies the kids watch in Halloween is the movie “The Thing from Another World” from 1953, which Carpenter later re-made in the 80s.

Halloween Reviews 2003

It’s Halloween Season, and as I had promised last year, I have begun to review more movies. Here’s what I have reviewed so far:

1. [The Quatermass Xperiment](/2002/10/16/the-quatermass-xperiment/)
2. [Event Horizon](/2003/10/20/event-horizon/)
3. [Halloween 1](/2003/10/27/halloween-1/)

Don’t forget to read last year’s reviews for more Halloween goodness.

Event Horizon

Finally, here we have a movie that’s much more appropriate to Halloween. Sure, it’s a science-fiction movie but that doesn’t really change anything. Event Horizon is a splatter-shocker-horror-movie, plain and simple.

Event Horizon stars Laurence Fishburne (in the role of the cool, calm and collected salvage ship captain) and Sam Neill as the scientist person that built the mysterious missing ship that gave the movie its title. When it first reached the big screen – received a mixed reaction at best. People told me that the movie starts off well enough but that it went downhill from there.

I try, of course, to not let such comments influence me overly. What I had read about the story itself sounded interesting enough: A research vessel disappeared without a trace several years ago. And now, totally unexpectedly, it re-appeared in an orbit around Neptune. Captain Miller and his crew are sent to investigate.

The movie certainly doesn’t waste any time in getting us down to the action. The voyage starts in a hurry, time for explanations is only taken upon arrival at Neptune. Looks like the research vessel Event Horizon wasn’t on such a routine mission afterall. It was testing a trans-dimensional drive that would propel it to the stars at speeds faster than light. Something went wrong… and now Miller and his crew have to explore the derelict vessel. And within minutes, the terror begins…

Event Horizon certainly keeps you on the edge of the seat. This isn’t so much because of the original story – far from it. From the very first moment you can identify various elements that were liberally borrowed from other movies. Take 2001, add a good deal of Aliens (the second movie), and replace the space alien with satanic/cabbalistic images and you’ve got Event Horizon. However, the fact that you know pretty much what is going to happen is building up quite a lot of tension. There’s also several scenes that should keep the friends of the more bloody sort of horror movie satisfied. I watched an uncut version of the movie (I presume), and some of the stuff really wasn’t pretty. I won’t give it away, but what happens to the doctor guy really wasn’t nice.

As for the end of the movie, I would agree with the people who criticized it. The movie does go downhill from about the mid-point, but it’s not nearly as bad as I had feared. It could have been done better, yes, but it really is more than adequate.

Event Horizon is nicely filmed. There are some really cool scenes and nice images in the movie. It does ignore some basic science, and blatantly so, but who cares, it’s not supposed to be scientifically accurate. There are good characters (I liked the salvage crew), the acting isn’t too bad, overall, Event Horizon makes for a rather decent evening of horror entertainment.

The DVD itself (I watched the German release) is sparse as most DVDs are these days. I guess the days of DVDs being released with many extras and produced with care and enthusiasm are over. We’re in the age of cheap mass-produced releases now. Besides a few languages it carries the theatrical trailer. Bah – What good is that? I really do not understand it, especially since for a modern movie like Event Horizont a lot of extra material probably already exists – Interviews, Making-Of, whatever.

**Bottom line**: Fun movie, disappointing DVD.

When Worlds Collide

630It’s October. The days are getting shorter and the evenings colder. What could be more obvious than spend the time with a few decent DVDs. Tonight’s movie is barely Halloween-themed, but I think it still works. There’s something about destroying Earth that always cheers me up.

**When Worlds Collide** (German Title: **”Der Jüngste Tag”**) is a classic tale of doomsday. When a couple of astronomers first discover an alien sun and its planet fast approaching on a collision course with Earth, no one believes them. Naturally. Their proposal to build a modern Noah’s Ark is turned down by the United Nations. Only a few industrialists heed the warning – some out of idealism, but at least one because he fears for his own life. With their money, the scientists begin building a rocket to save a handful of people.

Filmed in colour in 1951, When Worlds Collide must have been an expensive movie to make. While it is certainly antiquated, it’s interestingly executed. It’s a good mix between the human drama of the survivors, and the natural catastrophe. There are even some nice pictures – the sunken New York City, for example, doesn’t look too shabby.

The DVD I watched – German Edition – contains no particular specials. There’s the theatrical trailer, which is funny more than anything else, and various languages (English, French, Italian, Spanish). You’re buying this for the movie and I can tell you that if you like sci-fi or catastrophe flicks, you’ll enjoy this one. Yes it’s ancient. Yes you have to take all that into account. Still, it’ll entertain you. Just… brace yourself for the ending. It is truly horrible. And I do not mean that in a good way. I don’t think I am giving much away by telling you that of course there is a “happy end”. It’s basically a few people being happy in front of a landscape that is so obviously painted that it was a piece of crap when it was first designed. I guess the movie’s budget ran out right before the end. Still, watch this one.

Halloween Reviews 2002

A short collection of the reviews I wrote for [Halloween](/2002/10/12/halloween-2002/).

1. [The Lost Boys](/2002/10/15/the-lost-boys/)
1. [The Thing from Another World](/2002/10/14/the-thing-from-another-world-1951/)
1. [Quatermass and the Pit](/2002/10/11/quatermass-and-the-pit/)
1. [At the Mountains of Madness](/2002/10/22/at-the-mountains-of-madness-by-h-p-lovecraft/) (Book)


At The Mountains of Madness by H. P. Lovecraft

It’s still the time before Halloween, and after a little break of reviewing a random movie, I’m back to telling you about the gems of the world of horror.

And this time, it’s in printed form. Yes, you heard right, this bit of macabre halloween goodness comes on dead trees.

H. P. Lovecraft is one of the absolute masters of the genre. Even after seventy years, his stories have not lost any of their appeal. Lovecraft manages to create a strange atmosphere of authenticity, almost as if what he writes about could be really true. In fact, he’s so giood at it, that one of his most famous creations, the dreaded Necronomicon, is widely believed to have been an actual book.

At the Mountains of Madness is presented in the form of an expedition diary or report. A team of scientiests travels to Antarctica, and finds terror. First, strange fossils are discovered, and then an expedition gets slaughtered. The main characters explore further and uncover a hidden truth about earth’s pre-history, shielded by the eternal ice for aeons.

I won’t be giving away more of the plot; rest assured, the story is worth reading. I would not rank it quite as high as my favorite stories by Lovecraft – that would be the Shadow out of Time and the Case Charles Dexter Ward – but it’s still an absolute classic that everybody who enjoys a good chill should read.

Highly recommended.

The Simpsons Season 1 DVD

In a change from my current Halloween theme for reviews, I wanted to drop a few comments on the Simpsons First Season DVD set, especially since I comapred the Futurama First Season Box to it.

Unlike the [Futurama DVD Boxed Set](/2002/10/03/futurama-season-1-dvd/), there was never really a question for me: I ordered The Simpsons Season One as soon as it came out on DVD, not caring for the relatively high price (30 Euro at the time, see below). It arrived quickly, too. The disappointment was big: While the silvery box looked really rgeat, it had two disadvantages: One, it’s really easy to get the great box smeared with fingerprints. And two, the glue on my box was really crappy, and the upper side was loose. For 30+ Euros, I really expected more.

However, most of these gripes were quickly forgotten when I played the DVDs. The menues are simple but functional. There are some extras; animations and deleted scenes; various language clips; and some short features about the creation and history of the simpsons. They’re quite a bit longer than the featurette on the Futurama Season One box, and I didn’t feel cheated. (Note that the Futurama Boxed Set actually was published a year later.) But the main attraction, of course, are the episodes themselves. The picture quality is sharp and clear, good sound too as far as I can judge. Definitely a huge improvement over my old VHS tapes.

Once you’ve watched the episodes, you’ll want to watch them again, and this time, enable the audio commentary by Matt Groening and his fellow writers, directors and producers. And what can I say except this: The commentaries are great. They tell the story of the first year of the simpsons with all the highs and lows; how the show was almost cancelled, and so on. It’s simply a joy to listen to these tales, and I’ve probably watched the Episodes mroe often with the commentary than without. If you are a Simpsons fan at all, then you will not want to miss these, at any rate.

The bottom line is that, while it’s still expensive, I never regretted the purchase of The Simpsons Season One. I certainly got my money’s worth out of these discs, and I can only recommend them to anybody who likes The Simpsons and owns a DVD player. I would recommend that you compare priuces, though. Amazon.de’s current listed price for Season One is 40 Euros, which I find is way too much for this set. 30 Euros, which I remember paying for it, sounds about the correct upper limit for this set.

The Quatermass Xperiment

607It’s Halloween Time, and I had wanted to post more reviews this year. I’m really behind schedule, but tonight I watched the first scary movie of the season: The Quatermass Experiment, written by Nigel Kneale and directed by Val Guest.

The Quatermass movies are actually a loose series of movies and TV shows from the 1950s and 1960s; it’s classic sci-fi from Great Britain “end of the world looms” type science-fiction. I noticed the series first on amazon.co.uk. I was just browsing for old Sci-Fi movies and I found [Quatermass and the Pit](/2002/10/11/quatermass-and-the-pit/). I was so tempted that I bought it, and I have not once regrettet shelling out all that money for the import DVD.

I am not quite sure, but I think Quatermass Experiment predates The Pit. The stories are not connected and never reference each other, except by the title hero’s character. Where in the Pit, Alien horrors are excavated at a construction site in London, they come crashing down to Earth in the first rocket to be launched by mankind and constructed by Quatermass. There’s only one survivor, and when things start taking a turn for the worse, the Professor has to investigate and fight the horrors that threaten London and the world.

Quatermass Experiment shines – like The Pit – not because of it’s special effects.The creatures are obviously rubber and won’t scary even a kindergarden chid; and the way the rocket sticks out of the ground at the crash site made me laugh out loud. The story isn’t very original either, not by 1957 standards and certainly not by today’s standard. What the movie excels at is presentation, a tight script, and especially a very good performance by the main actors. Especially Quatermass and the man who plays the astronaut-victim Carroon are simply great. If I had to pick a favorite for this movie, then it’s the astronaut actor. Very good, simply wonderful.

The atmosphere of the movie is semi-scary. it’s a little behind [The Thing from Another World](/2002/10/14/the-thing-from-another-world-1951/) or the above-mentioned [Quatermass and the Pit](http://nils.jeppe.de/2002/10/11/quatermass-and-the-pit/). Still, I think you won’t be disappointed by this movie if you like old sci-fi/horror/suspense movies at all.

The DVD’s presentation is decent as well. I reviewed the German edition which is part of a collector’s series of Hammer movies. It includes the movie with English and two German sound tracks; one being the original movie dubbing of 1957; the other being the TV dubbing from the late 60s. (The TV version is much closer to the English original.) Also present on the DVD are a US trailer, an interview with Val Guest (which looks like it was taken at a hobby convention by an amateur cameraman) and a short documentation about Hammer movies.

All in all, I think the DVD is a good value for the current amazon.de price of about 13 Euros and a decent – if somewhat light – start for the 2003 Halloween season.

_Update, October 26th 2003:_ I should point out that I watched the German edition of the DVD – and that it has a noteable different set of features than the UK version. Above all, there seems to be an audio commentary included on the British DVD. If that is truely the case, then there is no excuse at all for the German DVD to miss this feature. Subtract a good notch from my rating. I’ll consider buying the british DVD but unfortunately it’s quite expensive (15 pounds).