Thursday, September 27, 2012
Horror anthology films are a cool idea in theory that almost never succeed in practice. They carry with them a strange sense of hope--if one short film doesn't entirely work, the next one just might. Personally, I've got a soft spot for horror anthologies in general, and '80s anthologies like Creepshow and Twilight Zone: The Movie in particular, but I'll admit that the results in even these sentimental favourites are wildly uneven. The new anthology V/H/S is a fun and well-intentioned attempt to meld the spirit of those movies to the current found-footage horror craze (with a retro-sounding title thrown in for good measure), but while there's something to enjoy in each of the five segments (six if you count the wraparound segments, directed by Simon Barrett) none of them is fully successful.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Halloween III: Season Of The Witch has always stuck out like a sore thumb from its brethren in the Halloween franchise. Original director and series producer John Carpenter and his producing partner Debra Hill had originally envisioned a sort of anthology series of films, each with a different horror story under the Halloween banner. An admittedly cool idea, but when the blockbuster success of the first Halloween film demanded the continuance of Michael Myers' story, the second installment picked up right where the first one left off. Then, with Myers seemingly dead for sure at the end of 1981's Halloween II, Carpenter and Hill went back to the original anthology idea for the third film. Audiences were confused and enraged by the Myers-free, unrelated plotline of 1982's Halloween III, and the film sank like a stone at the box office. But thanks to cable and home video, this unique and nasty flick found a rabid cult audience over the years...an audience that is sure to be thrilled with Scream Factory's new extras-packed DVD/Blu-Ray release of Halloween III. Scream Factory (a division of Shout! Factory, the fine folks who brought us the Corman Classics series over the last few years) has pulled out all the stops with this new special edition, and it's tough to imagine any fan of Halloween III being disappointed with the treasure trove of extras included. A new retrospective documentary, entitled Stand Alone, details the film's troubled history and eventual reclamation from oblivion by a rabid fan base, and included contributions from Tommy Lee Wallace, Tom Atkins, Stacy Nelkin, Dean Cundey, Alan Howarth, and more (John Carpenter is strangely absent). This warts-and-all doc is worth the price of admission alone. Series producer Irwin Yablans bluntly states that he felt abandoning the Myers storyline was a huge mistake. Wallace claims that his sole writing credit was a misnomer, adding that most of the original script was generated by British writer Nigel Kneale (creator of the Quatermass films, of which Carpenter was a huge fan). The disc also includes a tour of the film's locations, vintage TV spots (including one for the film's network TV debut!), and two commentary tracks--one with Wallace, the other with Atkins. Scream Factory has packaged Halloween III with a brand new cover illustration, but in a nifty concession to VHS-era fans, the DVD and Blu-Ray come with reversible packaging showcasing the iconic original artwork as well, so you can decide for yourself how best to display the movie on your shelf. Picture and sound quality are top notch all around as well. This release is a welcome addition to any '80s horror fan's collection, and bodes well for the rest of Shout Factory's upcoming titles (including The Funhouse, They Live, Terror Train, and, of course, Halloween II, with other movies to be announced). Good luck getting that damn Silver Shamrock jingle out of your head, though.
Monday, September 17, 2012
Strange Adventures in Halifax, received a shipment of discounted Marvel Essential collections--you know, the big black-and-white, 500-page reprints they do--and amongst these cheap paperbacks was a volume reprinting...Marvel's series based on the 1980 film version of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. I remember being taken aback in the dream, wondering how this series had eluded me, both a diehard Marvel kid and a Stephen King fanatic since my teens. I awoke desperately wishing that this series, which in my dreaming brain was written by Doug Moench and illustrated by Gene Colan, had actually existed. I was also left wondering how they filled out an entire ongoing series with this material; a film adaptation at this point in Marvel's history usually took up about five or six issues, so I guess the series would have continued with tales from the Overlook Hotel's haunted history, maybe? Either way, it wasn't real, so all I could do was wonder what a Marvel Comic based on The Shining would have looked like, circa 1980. Hence this. I think this dream came about because a) I've been thinking about Stephen King a lot lately, having just read 11/22/63 and re-read It, not to mention the fact that I've also been reading Marvel's Essential Man-Thing (how's that for a suggestive title?) collection. Maybe my subconscious brain was trying to imagine how late '70s/early '80s Marvel, which was into some pretty weird shit at that point, would have handled a partnership with the King of horror, who was still only a few books into his career at that stage. I think I'll have to do a few more of these mock covers to explore the idea. On a side note--I absolutely hated the fact that I was reduced to finding that damn carpet pattern online and dropping it in via Photoshop, but believe me when I say that I tried like hell to draw it freehand, and it nearly drove me crazier than Jack Torrance. And one more thing--this was done just for the hell of it. Stephen King owns the novel The Shining and all the characters in it, Warner Brothers owns the movie The Shining, and Marvel Comics owns, well, Marvel Comics. Please don't sue me!
Friday, September 7, 2012
I recently read and reviewed Stephen King's 11/22/63, in which the novel's time-traveling narrator spends an early passage of the book in the town of Derry. King fans know this fictional New England town well--it served as the location for his 1986 novel It, and 11/22/63 even features a cameo by teenaged versions of two of the earlier book's protagonists, Beverly Marsh and Richie Tozier (their appearance is set a few years after their initial defeat of Pennywise). I hadn't read It, or watched the four-hour 1990 ABC miniseries adaptation, in probably two decades, but this brief taste of Derry and its strangely haunted inhabitants was enough to inspire me to check out both interpretations. And, much like the grown-up heroes of King's magnum opus, my memories had grown hazy, but they came flooding back with frightening speed and intensity. Fangoria interview, where he called the creature a "Tonka Toy". There's been talk recently of Warner Brothers adapting It once again, this time as two feature films directed by Cary Fukunaga (2011's Jane Eyre). In this new adaptation, the flashbacks would be set in the early 1980s, which makes sense but begs the question--will the children of Derry now be terrorized by Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers instead of the Mummy and the Creature? Time will tell if the new version works, assuming it ever reaches the screen...but it's safe to say that as far as the exploits of Pennywise the Dancing Clown are concerned, nobody does It better than Stephen King himself.