Archive for » July, 2007 «

Monday, July 30th, 2007 | Author: Casey Criswell

The Tripper

It’s 1967 and as a young child sits watching coverage of the war on television he is bombarded with savage imagery of war torn violence and aftermath. His father, a logger, attempting to care for his wife needs to clear trees in order to afford his wife’s medication. When news of a band of hippies stopping his clearing operation reaches him he grabs his son and heads off to clear out the hippies. The hippies announce their agenda, dad retaliates in fury and soon the boy’s mind breaks as he takes out the lead hippie in a fit of violence. Cut to present day and the hippies are back. This time they’re modern aged kids yearning for the days of old, back in the forest to attend a music festival. With an onslaught of freaks and weirdo’s in attendance, nobody notices the Ronald Reagan look alike moving throughout the crowd…until hippies start to die.

Directed by the one and only David Arquette, The Tripper is a throwback to the slashers of old. Somewhat of a rarity in this day and age, there are many elements shared between this modern tale and our favs from back in the day. Masked killers, a brief back story on why the killer is…angry, random groups of fornicating teens, it’s all there. This time around Arquette mixes up the formula a bit and gives us a target ‘group’ as opposed to a target ‘girl’ and from there Tripper manages to stay fresh. Sure, there is a main girl, but she’s not really Mr. Reagan’s target; she’s just part of that flock of dirty hippies that just happens to get his goat.

The beauty here is in the way the formula has been tweaked. From the very beginning of the flick it is laid out to us clear as day who the killer is and why he’s pissed off. There’s really no question about who’s who and what the motive is; despite this fact though they still manage to throw in the red herrings. The jealous ex boyfriend, the band of rowdy rednecks; it’s conceivable at one point or the other that these characters could be the killers, but you know full well they’re not. They’re just there for flavor and general chaos, and those elements are what keep this one from being stale.

Sure there’s some plot holes here and there, but they really do not factor in. You could over analyze these holes, but what’s the point? The plot play second fiddle here to the nut job in the Reagan mask. Not a film to require heavy thinking, there’s one motive behind this flick and that’s fun. Pure slasher flick fun. You could draw a connection between the Regan obsession and the hippies, or some kind of eco-friendly bible thumping, but you’d be trying to hard. Settle in to watch some funny characters get knocked off and you’ll be all set.

The cast goes a long way to making Tripper a fun watched as there’s some star power packed in. With the likes of Arquette, Balthazar Getty, Lukas Haas, Thomas Jane, and Jason Mewes, you’re suddenly looking at a flick packed with people in non typical roles. All played well with a good tounge in cheek manner, the ‘ooo who’s that guy!’ game adds to the fun. (Lest I forget, Pee Wee has a good role in here as well and pulls off one of the more disgusting hiding spots I’ve seen to date! And in addition, IMDb tells me that Courtney Cox made an appearance as well, although I seemed to miss her.)

The Tripper is a simple movie. Keep an open mind focused intently on having a good time and you’ll have an enjoyable watch. If you want a flick with some meat and thought inducing segments, this isn’t the movie you want to see. This is a flick about stoners in the woods hunted by a man in a Ron Reagan mask. Keep in simple!

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Thursday, July 26th, 2007 | Author: Casey Criswell

Any New York readers out there? Well here’s for you!

Hot off my inbox comes news from the Big Apple of two upcoming film festivals worthy of note from the Lincoln Center Film Society!

First up is the Film Comments Selects series:

First up is a new French thriller entitled: Them

“[Them is] a lean horror machine designed to simply wring the audience dry across barely 75 minutes of almost real-time action.

Second on the bill is a 1982 made for TV docudrama starring Tommy Lee Jones called The Executioner’s Song

Showcasing Tommy Lee Jones’s Emmy-award-winning performance as the sociopathic loner, Schiller’s made-for-TV docudrama,adapted by Mailer from his book, details the final year of Gilmore’s life from his release from prison in March 1976 through his cold-blooded killing of a motel manager and a gas-station attendant to his death by firing squad less than a year later.

Them looks like definite fare for the discerning Cinema Fromage reader, and The Executioner’s Song has Tommy Lee Jones as a death row killer, and who doesn’t love some Tommy Lee Jones?

The real attention grabber here is the Lincoln Center Film Society’s four part Roman Polanski showcase, Summer Chills!

Showcased here are four chiller classics, at least a couple you should all know by name.

The Fearless Vampire Killers
Repulsion
Rosemary’s Baby
The Tenant

Say what you will about Roman Polanski, there is no denying that he has churned out some flicks that have helped define some classics of the thriller genre. For you New Yorkers out there, this little festival looks like a groovy way to spend an evening none the less.

For ticket info and a gander at what else the Film Society has to offer, be sure to check out their site at http://www.filmlinc.com/!

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Thursday, July 26th, 2007 | Author: Casey Criswell

Our daughter, Delaney, is 7. Now, she is used to her parent’s strange obsession with horror films. Not that wee sit her down in front of them and make her watch, but we don’t necessarily shield her from them either.

She would sit and watch Buffy and Angel and Dark Shadows with me from the tender age of 4.

A while back we got a dish. One of the channels is Monsters HD. Now during the day I would have this channel on, watching the old black and white horror movies. Delaney would sit and watch them with me. She and her father watch the old Godzilla films. In fact she took one with her to show and tell.

One day, however, I was doing laundry. Delaney was out in the living room, I had thought watching cartoons. When I brought in a pile and placed it on the couch to fold she looks at me and says “Mommy, you have to watch this! This guy really dosen’t like people too much!” To my amusement, she was watching Monsters HD and Friday the 13th Part 8 was showing.

Not long after that, my daughter was with me at a book store. I was looking for some book, when she comes clutching a book in her hand yelling, “Mommy look! It’s Leatherface!” Now, I did get some sour looks from people, whether it was from the fact that my 6 year old was yelling in a book store or that she knew who Leatherface was, I have no idea.

The other day, my husband brought home 3 of the Friday the 13th movies, which I have sitting here on my desk. A moment ago, Delaney came up and was looking at them. Then she looked at me asking what they were about.

I explained the legend of Jason Vorheese and explained how the story starts. She looks at me and says “Well, I am thinking he really isn’t a bad guy after all.” I asked her what she meant. “Well, he drowned in that lake so maybe he is killing these people so they don’t drown in the lake either!” And satisfied with her answer she turned around and went to do something else.

So, I thought I would share with you the insight of a 7 year old who sees the good in every serial killer.

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Monday, July 23rd, 2007 | Author: Casey Criswell

Sunshine

In the far flung future our sun is dying out. In an effort to reignite the star earth sends out ship with an experimental bomb along with a crew to manage the feet. This mission failed with no explanation as to why. With time quickly running out earth devises a second ship and payload and hurtles them off into space. All is going well as the ship rounds Venus, but as they draw nearer things begin to go awry. Picking up the first crew’s distress signal the crew of Icarus 2 begins to fall into dissent as they disagree on how best to proceed. Soon accidents happen and the fate of the world is in question.

Sunshine is a fantastic dark and gritty sci fi adventure. There is a heavy plot, though a heavy dose of suspension of belief is required for full enjoyment. These people are flying to the sun after all. Filled with a heavy sense of foreboding at the weight of their mission we get a grand case of character development. Focusing on each crew member in different ways we get a deep look at their individual natures and how they deal with the pressure of being adrift in space for several years all with the task of saving the world. Pretty heavy indeed and each crew member shows the small chinks in their emotional armor at one time or another. The character development is really pretty masterful in this one and you feel a connection to each one whether it be fleeting or lasting. Even the plot here is a character of its own. Grandiose in design it’s a classic imagining akin of the genre greats. A mission to the sun to save the world, the pressures on the crew from both their mission and being trapped on a ship for at least four years, the possible sacrifice of themselves to save their loved ones; there’s plenty here to pull you into a deep and engrossing tale that will make your head spin for a bit after the credits roll. With all of this packed into such a top notch genre package, it was really kind of sad that it all fell apart when they docked with Icarus 1.

With one fell swoop Sunshine turned from a taught science fiction thriller into a clichéd horror flick that throws us back to the days of Event Horizon or even a feeble attempt the fear generated in the original Alien. This is a sad thing as it knocked this sure fire blockbuster down to a more mediocre level. Adding unneeded elements to the mix they changed the entire scope of the film. Instead of the invisible evil that lurks in us all when the pressure begins to make us crack, they must give us a tangible evil that pushes the boundaries of our already heavy suspension of disbelief. Going further, once this shift in tones arrives, so does our shift in cinematography. In what was reminiscent of the sterile surroundings on board the vessel in Aliens, (which is a good thing in this matter mind you) the first half of the film gives us a gritty view of life locked in an enclosed space and how the walls could seemingly close in upon you as time wore on. When the shift hits so too our senses assaulted as the view becomes jittery blurred and jumpy in attempt to show the evil that has descended upon the Icarus 2. While the visage they were attempting to bestow upon was not lost, it was damn near impossible to tell exactly what was going on. Falling prey to what some may call the ‘MTV Shaky Cam’ effect, what was artful and gritty has become….annoying.

Thankfully, as the very end of the film arrives so does the directors senses and Sunshine manages to fall back into it’s character focus and artful cinematography to give us a tidy end cap to help alleviate the mess that was made of the second act. Sure it’s a bit confusing, sure it’s still a bit blurry, but they manage to tie of the plot and give us an end to our tale, all with the singular characterization we fell in love with in the beginning.

What could have been a faboo flick that would have been near my top five fav’s of the year was unfortunately marred and dropped back to ‘it was all right status’. I could tell you exactly what I felt went wrong and what I felt would have made this that faboo flick I had hoped for but there’s two problems. 1. It would require spoilers for those have not seen this yet; 2. I’m just some schlub of a blogger and what do I know about writing movies!

3.5 should have beens out of 5

(Let me add that the first act far outweighs the second, and this is still worth a viewing)

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Monday, July 23rd, 2007 | Author: Casey Criswell

Captivity

Young supermodel has been roofied and kidnapped! Held in a seemingly underground bunker the young model whines a lot and caters to the secretive man that keeps slipping her mickey’s and changing her clothes while she is passed out. Soon she realizes there is some one being held captive next door, they quickly bond and she falls to reciting her erotic fan fiction out loud every time the scene becomes to much for her. Movie plods on predictably, she screams a lot, people fight, and at least there were captives to make the movie live up to its title.

In case you couldn’t tell by my summary, I walked away from Captivity with a bit of anger, a slight loss of intelligence, and an ever faint looseness in my bowels. Granted I didn’t have much in the way of hopes going into this one, it stars Elisha Cuthbert who’s last screamer outing was rather lackluster in House of Wax, but you’d still hope that in this day and age they would make a horror/thriller at least remotely entertaining. Starting out with the opening credits, we watch the killer watching his video tapes of Ms. Cuthbert as he prepares a death trap for his current victim. Involving papier-mâché and battery acid, at the moment I was somewhat impressed at this guy’s chutzpah and hoped for the best with the remainder of the flick. As it rolled on though and we’re introduced to Cuthbert’s highly unbelievable screams of terror and glimpses of model ingenuity trying to escape her new found prison, that impression rolls into mild boredom as she whines as predicted, her stalker reacts as predicted, and there’s really nothing new and exciting as it rolls along.

Really, that’s the entire problem here: predictability. Not one to toot my own horn, some who knows me, may well remember that I made my prediction on the identity of the killer from the very first airing of the trailer. When the movie started to roll and there was nothing apparent to change my point of view, it was quite clear that there were going to let this roll on as obvious as they made it look. This is a theme we’ve all seen before, and they did little to nothing to tweak said formula to make it stand out from it’s predecessors. Sure it’s got a slick set and modern aesthetics but these changes do not a good movie make. Beyond that, there is nothing in the way of character development aside from the opening credits showing Cuthbert’s talking head interviews from her modeling career, and the back of the killer’s head as he works away on his scrapbook to commemorate the captivity of this blond bombshell. Torture and kidnapping flicks generally work out much better if you feel any scrap of emotional attachment to the characters. In Captivity, you really don’t give a shit what happens to this girl. All we see of her is vapid and snobbish remarks that we see in the light of a Paris Hilton interview, and would any of us care if she got kidnapped and locked in a basement? I highly doubt it. When you mix in a couple of cops that are trying their hardest to portray the most stereotypical New York cops imaginable trying to lead us along to the eventual identity of her captor, they fall on deaf ears since they telegraphed who the killer was going to be in the first fifteen minutes of the flick. So why bother? I didn’t; their scenes made a good time to go forage for munchies.

I will say this outright: save your $8 and give Captivity a pass. When you leave the theater sleepy and groggy, you really don’t need to add the humiliation of letting yourself be sucked in to loosing your hard earned cash. Some people may be inclined to go to see Cuthbert on the big screen, but you can find what you need on the internet. Her performance here is lacking at best and really all she boils down to is a somewhat pretty face.

1 predictable predicament out of 5

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Wednesday, July 18th, 2007 | Author: Casey Criswell

Bit Parts

Ah L.A., full of young girls with visions of stardom and glamor in the bright shiny eyes. They make an easy target. So as the film opens and we see one such girl arriving at a rundown warehouse for an audition in a dark room…it really comes as no surprise that she disappears. Later as we see another girl hail a taxi for another such audition, she befriends an L.A. taxi driver on the way who instantly shows his feelings of apprehension at said location. But, she’s gonna be a star and can handle herself so there’s no need for him to worry. Lucky for her, when she disappears minutes later he decides to join forces with her older sister in the hunt to rescue her from whatever ill fate she’s suffering. Digging deeper we learn that the director at these auditions was not a director at all, but a former plastic surgeon. A former plastic surgeon since one night in drunken driving stupidity he manages to kill his wife and scar his once beautiful daughter. Hacking away bit by bit we watch along as Dr. Cranston harvests body parts to right the wrongs he caused his daughter.

It’s not like we haven’t seen a mad doctor harvest some body parts before, so going into Bit Parts I was a bit skeptical at first. Rehashed themes, low budget, this is going to be a stinker isn’t it?

Well how about that, it really wasn’t!

There are two elements involved here that make this flick enjoyable. The first is Christopher Page as the delightfully mad Dr. Cranston. Jumping from sappy baby talk with his daughter to shouting insanely at whatever trivial matter set him off at that moment, this mad doctor was pretty entertaining to watch. We saw little of the man except for scenes in his scrubs when working the harvest, but these scenes were usually well worth watching as he rambles on in his unhinged manner. Adding to this the random moments were his own patch jobs on himself fell loose was entertaining as well, such as fingers falling into his tea cup, make up work, the whole shebang. The second element was in fact Dr. Cranston’s daughter played by Michelle Angel. Where it was conceivable that the Dr. was cracking up the pressure of the damage he had wrought and trying to make things right for his young daughter, Missy was just crazier than a shit house rat. Seemingly a young girls mind trapped in a women’s body, she would bounce back and forth between child like banter to waxing on about wanting nice boobies all at the same time. Sweet and innocent one second, frothing at the mouth the next if her playmate didn’t want to play her way.

Sadly, these two characters were the true highlight of the movie. While the older sister was some what dry in delivery and too hung up on being a cops daughter in character, she was necessary to the plot and worked more or less. Really, she just needed a bit more ‘umph’. Her cabbie sidekick however, the same cabbie that dropped her sister off to her fate in the beginning of the flick, we could do with out. Rather annoying and filled to the brim with too much cheese, this character was a bit of a detriment to the overall package it was at these times I found myself checking the time and hoping for a quick resolve.

Plot wise, as I stated before we’ve seen similar in the past, but in Bit Parts it was well paced and flowed well. All along we knew the purpose and where it was going but at the same time, this left few gaping plot holes to fall into. Feeling the father’s need to fix his daughter we could relate to, the tender moments of he and said daughter looking over head shots to pick out the body parts that would be perfect for her were engaging. Even the Psycho nods when the Dr. would venture back to his locked bedroom to shed his grief to ‘Mommy’ helped to make sure you felt his sorrow and grief at the tragedy he drunkenly created. All this piled together to make your skin crawl a bit because it was obvious you were feeling a bit sorry for a couple of loons.

For a low budget horror flick from a first time writer and a first time director, this is a solid flick that’s worth a watch. With bad guys to sympathize with it’s a good one to turn you about a bit emotionally, and gives a couple of entertaining nut jobs to watch that are more lively than your standard ‘stand menacingly in the shadows’ style killer we see so much of. Throw in a couple elements from a few classic horror flicks and you have yourself a decent late night cable viewing that you won’t regret.

3.5 loony birds out of 5

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Tuesday, July 17th, 2007 | Author: Colleen Criswell

The Red Skulls

For a movie made with little to no budget, Red Skulls wasn’t too bad of a film. The plot was mostly coherent and understandable with few gaping holes. With the make up effects it was evident where they spent the most of their funds. Some very nice gore effects, considering the economic restraints held on the artists. The script was passable, not Shakespeare or King, but workable and something that is important when you make a film like this. Costuming, well, the movie revolves around gangs, and where for the most part it was basic street clothing, some things sort of glared out at me on it. The belts, for one thing… large and oddly shaped… what was the symbolism for this?

Did it denote rank? Or was it just a bit of decoration? Also, one of the gang members I noticed had a blue bandanna and the gang’s color was supposed to be red. Now I have never been a member of a gang, however I used to work with a fellow many many years ago who was. I remember discussing in detail with him some of the ins and outs of gang membership; one aspect being the colors. I was told if you wore something such as a bandana, in an opposing gang’s color, you would be shot on site. This was just one of those things that stuck with me.

Ok, let me go back a bit. The beginning of the movie, we have an older man who gives us a very bizarre styling of a disclaimer. The man reminded me of a minister for some reason. Some cast members are standing around behind him as he introduces us to the film’s beginning. Explaining that we are going to be treated to images that are “Bad… mkay…” drinking, smoking, mass quantities of blood”… so we have been warned….Now I am always one for fun disclaimers to movies. I love the old throwbacks to the cinema features that had a buxom blonde in the lobby of the theatre in a skimpy nurse’s costume for you to sign a waiver incase you have heart problems or die of fright from the film. The old preacher just wasn’t buxom enough to hold my interest, however. Nor did he remind us to say “It is only a movie… it is only a movie…” incase you have a hard time discerning it from reality.

As far as the story line goes, we have a gang called The Red Skulls. One of the members has fallen from an encounter with a new rival gang called The Rats. At the funeral the second in charge, Uri (Lucas Campbell who also co wrote and co directed the film) decides enough is enough and /gquit … I mean leaves the gang. So leadership falls to the next in line, who is set on revenge of his fallen brethren. He starts to recruit more members but Uri thinks it needs to stop. On the side, a couple of gang members go and break into some medical supply warehouse and come across some non labeled red liquid (which looked a lot like Hi-C fruit punch). One of the guys drinks a little and promptly dies. The second leaves his buddy there running off with the rest of the juice, unaware his buddy has been turned into a zombie of sorts that attacks the patrolling night watchman. Unfortunately no more is said about the friend or what the liquid is for or anything. The idea isn’t even reflected upon again until the night of the pre-brawl bash when the young man being upset he was looked over in the chain of gang politics decided to off the new leader by pouring it in his wine bottle. Unfortunately this backfires and the wine was ceremoniously added to “The Nail” which was a form of Hairy Buffalo from my college days, where everyone dumps every sort of alcohol possible into a large container and everyone drinks from it. Of course, all of the new gang members drink and turn into zombies.

Yeah that is pretty much the plot. Where it was a great idea, the film itself was lacking in some ways. Other than the unexplained red juice; I mean really, we could have had a news flash in the background about it, or a news print ad or even someone talking about what was going on with that to add to the drama. It would have only taken a few moments of film time, and it would make a lot more sense. Next it was the casting. Now, I understand that when you have no budget you must call on those who will work for free. Unfortunately for this movie, it created a gang of “Emo” kids. Yes, we are talking the wiry, wimpy, whiney sort. This unfortunately did not add to the realism of an actual gang, with the exception of the silent Romeo (Ryan Maille) who I thought was just adorable. On top of that we had the opposing gang… words cannot express anything I can say about the rival gang… so maybe photos might help?

Speaking of the casting, the actors seemed to muddle through the lines, with little or no infliction or feeling which made the parts that were supposed to be dramatic comical, and the parts that were meant to be comical just plain sad.

I will say however, that for this type of movie, they did okay. It didn’t make me want to slash my wrists as some no-budget movies have made me do, though I did learn that Emo kids a good gang does not make. And overweight creepy uncles do not need qualify for gang initiation.

I do look forward to viewing more of the Campbell brothers work as their experience grows. Where they do have more to learn, including making sure the shots of hits actually connect for the final shot, they do show a lot of potential.

3 Pizza Slicers as Rumble Weapons out of 5

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Tuesday, July 17th, 2007 | Author: Casey Criswell

Phantasm II

Years have passed since Mike (James Legros) lost his brother to the sinister Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) and his other worldly gnomes. Spending much of that time in a mental institution he finally decides to play with the administrators and agrees with them that his visions of the past were just that….visions. Fooling his caretakers into believing he was cured he’s set free. Tracking down his friend Reggie (Reggie Bannister), also suffering from the losses induced by the Tall Man the last time around, they team up to take down this menace once and for all.

Never before has a man sans mask rose to be such a horror icon as Angus Scrimm. We all know Jason Vorhees and his trademark hockey mask and machete, or Freddy Krueger and his burn scars and razor claw. Angus Scrimm though, he has his shiny silver balls and the simple fact that he’s just plain creepy looking. It’s that simple! Imagine running through a mortuary to hear this man behind you shout ‘BOYYYY!’ The thought makes me consider Depends, that’s for sure.

The first Phantasm brought a certain element of fantasy and wonder with it. A young boy who has stumbled upon this sinister evil, only to have no one believe him until it’s almost too late. In round two our story jumps ahead into the future giving us an older perspective with a need to help and a sense of revenge. The beauty here though is that this jump in the story line also goes a long ways towards fleshing out this world surrounding the franchise and building a mythos to make the entire package feel more whole. As Mike and Reggie set forth to track down the tall man, we’re show that the small town cemetery of Phantasm I was not the only world that the Tall Man has known…it was the first of many. Adding a sense of post-apocalyptic horror as they roll through boarded up ghost towns that our monster du jour has bled dry, we come to realize the reach of Scrimm’s evil. Ladies and gentlemen, we have now transcended from your typical slasher sequel formula showing one mad man revisiting the same place time again.

With the plot ramped up to add new layers of darkness and scope, it would make sense for our hero’s to evolve as well. Where in their first encounter Mike was a teenager still vaguely innocent and whiling away his days exploring in the woods and cemetery, he has now grown into a man with a single purpose letting nothing stop him on that path. Where Reggie was a bit of a looser ice cream man doing what he could do to help Mikey out when the going got rough, he’s now turned into a tough guy needing to avenge the death of his family and holding a similar singular purpose as Mike. Where the fun lies is when these two start to bust out their home made weaponry and start to kick down mortuary doors in the search for Mr. Man. Four barreled shot guns, flame throwers and grenade window traps all combine together to add the camp to this adding a bit of fun to the noticeably heavier turn of the plot. Mix in some good one liners from Reggie and you’ll manage a few chuckles as well. The Tall Man this time around is exactly what you’d expect from Angus Scrimm. He is what he is and there’s no need to change. Once his embalming balls of Doom make their appearance in the mortuary halls, we have traversed full circle to come finish up in the Phantasm formula that we fell in love with the first time around.

There’s a lot to love here and the fan base surrounding the franchise shows it. If you found yourself in love with the nostalgic and mystical wonder that surrounding the first venture, know that this time around things have changed some, but it’s change for the better. Building a franchise foundation, fleshing out our characters and adding a dash of kick ass to them helps to make this a worthy sequel that improves on the original, which in this genre is often a rarity.

If you haven’t seen either, check them out. The Phantasm series should be a staple for every horror nerd out there.

4 bad ass ice cream men out of 5

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Monday, July 16th, 2007 | Author: Casey Criswell

Dark Night of the Scarecrow

Bubba (Larry Drake) is a simple man. With the mind of a child in the body of a thirty six year old man, he loves nothing more that to while away the sunny pastures playing with his young friend Marylee Tonya Crow. Bubba’s a gentle soul loving nothing more than playing with children; honestly, he’d never hurt a fly. Unfortunately Bubba lives in a small farming community filled with close minded rednecks that view him as nothing but a blight on their society and feel that his being playmates with the children of the community needs to be stopped. After an accident with a neighborhood dog it is assumed that the redneck brute squad’s worst fears have been confirmed, as Bubba brings home a bloodied and unconscious Marylee. Knowing well enough that these four men, known for tormenting him at every chance, will chase him down and make him pay regardless of his guilt he sets off into the woods to play the hiding game in hopes of avoiding their fists and mockery. Soon they catch up and take justice into their own hands leaving us with a world without Bubba. Do they pay for the crimes? Well as Mrs. Bubba states in the movie, there are other forms of justice out there besides the law.

When I first laid eyes on this one the other day, I didn’t think much of it. From the 80′s, revenge flick, scarecrows, sounded fun enough but none of it rang any bells. Once the tape started however my foggy at best memory started to clear and it dawned on me that I had in fact seen Dark Night of the Scarecrow many years before. As the fog began to lift I began to recall a tale that was vaguely horrifying to my tender teen aged brain and I settled in to see if those feelings of fear held true some twenty years later.

In some ways surprising enough, they really did.

Dark Night is a bit of a hybrid in away. Mixing elements of various genres we see the heavy influences of revenge flicks, slashers, psychological horrors, and suspense. When combined we get a some what sleepy movie that moves slower than your normal horror fare yet remains engrossing all the same. The true beauty here is that much like a Hammer flick, this one is not so much about blood and gore or jump scares; this one is horrific in the mental sense. Sure, you see some creative deaths through out but they’re few and far between and in comparison to other 80′s horror, they are completely dry. Never seeing the actual death there is very little in the way have blood and guts and never do you see a graphic death, just the moments before and after. The bone chilling scares come from the attitude of this small town community and their hatred of those that are unlike them.

You see, the truly horrifying aspect of this one is really one man. The focus of the film is the ring leader of this band of vigilante idiots, Mr. Hazelrigg (Charles Durning). Mr. Hazelrigg is the local postman and his is the hatred towards Bubba that stands out over all others. The ring leader of the execution squad hunting down Bubba, his light snack gaze towards the young Marylee, his inhuman disregard towards human life in efforts to maintain his innocence…the man while not so at first glance, is truly chilling in his coldness and calculations to carry out his hatred. Sure there’s somebody running around killing off these galoots in revenge for the death of Bubba; is it the District Attorney or is it the ghost of Bubba? Sure could be but we really don’t care. These guys all deserve it for what they did to the guy. The real monster here is the town’s soul postal carrier, and the fact that the townsfolk could befriend and wave happily at this sociopath is far more chilling than the other monsters lurking about.

In the end, Dark Night of the Scarecrow was indeed as enjoyable as my hazy recollection led me to believe. Perhaps it wasn’t scary or chilling in the same way it was back those many years ago, but looking at it from a grown up perspective it’s pretty damn creepy all the same.

As a matter of fact, the final scene of this film is still the creepiest part; much as I remember it keeping me up for two or three nights straight those many moons ago.

3.5 redneck vigilantes out of 5

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Sunday, July 15th, 2007 | Author: Casey Criswell

So yah, last week I showed my excitement and stuff for Indy’s first Horror Con, Horrorhound Weekend. It was a fun day for the most part, although it was a bit small. (We covered the whole thing in about an hour)

However, a few weeks back while surfing about the interwebs, I stumbled across something that quite frankly…got me overexcited and a bit verklempt. As I mentioned before, Indiana and ‘horror fandom’ really aren’t synonymous with each other. Sure, we have our fair share of horror nerds about, but seldom is there much done in the way of film fests, conventions, and overall community.

So, imagine my excitement when I discovered the B Movie Celebration being put together by Indy Film CoOp.

For those of you not ready to click the link, what exactly is the B Movie Celebration?

Well at first glance, this appears to be a Hoosier Film Fest of epic proportions. Fan of old school horror flicks? A Fan of camp and cheese? A fan of black & white science fiction flair? Then feast your eyes on some of the films to be shown in this three day event:

The Bride of Frankenstein
Dawn of the Dead
The Day the Earth Stood Still
Death Race 2000
Evil Dead
Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill!

And that’s just a handful of what will be shown throughout the weekend.

All told, there are well over 30 to 40 films to be shown of three days and in four theaters in Franklin, IN. Sure, some of you readers in the bigger cities out there may look at this and think it may not be so exciting. Access to festivals such as this are typically far more common in your bigger cities. But for central Indiana, a film festival of this size is an epic undertaking in and of itself. To make it harder on themselves, they’ve dedicated it to a genre that is often scoffed at and avoided, especially in the land of corn and republicans that make up a good chunk of this sometimes backwards state.

Not only is there a slate of great movies in store for the weekend, there are some events lined up as well that makes the aspiring film geek and screenwriter (such as myself) sit up and take notice.

WRITERS ROUNDTABLE -RON ABERDEEN, CARL SALMINEN AND JIM O’REAR
Make You’re Own Damn Movie -A class for budding film makers taught by Troma Studios legendary Lloyd Kaufman
One on One with Tom Savini

And many many more.

As you can see, for the B Movie fan that happens to live in Indiana, or even neighboring states such as Ohio, Kentucky and the like, this is a film festival to take note of. I myself plan on attempting to make as many showings as budget allows, and maybe if I’m lucky hitting up a class or two as well. I just hope I can contain my fanboy-ism in the presence of Tom Savini.

Then again, if I couldn’t, could you really blame me?

For a complete listing of films and events throughout the weekend, be sure to visit the festival calendar. With any luck you’ll catch me there. I’ll be the one with the trash bag full of popcorn and the idiot grin.

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