Paper Cuts: 10/28/16

pc-tales-for-a-halloween-night-2

It is October and Halloween is right around the corner.  For most of us, we are marathon watching our favorite horror franchises.  The sequels, no matter the quality, may be entertaining, but never seem to live up to the original.  And in very rare air, a sequel delivers more than the original.  John Carpenter’s Tales for a Halloween Night Volume Two may be in that rare spot even stacked up against its Eisner Winning Volume One.

This second collection was ambitious.  Volume Two is actually double the size of the original. Horror Anthologies that run longer in length tend to lead to more inconsistency across stories, Tales actually bucked that trend and made the book more enjoyable.

The art in this volume is really diverse and stylized and gives each story a distinct perspective.    There is everything from black and white with scratchy lines to bright and bold coloring reminiscent of Jhonen Vasquez’s Invader Zim cartoons.  There is also appreciation for some of the stories that let the art do the heavy lifting of the storytelling.

Each writer found a way to tell their own tale of terror and no two stories felt similar.  Due to the size of each tale it is hard to say too much without giving away, but truthfully, I enjoyed each of the tales.

The only critical critique of this came in the way in the final tale, “House of the Rising Son.”  The lettering was so jarring that it really took away from some beautiful art and was an unfortunate end to a really solid great horror anthology series.

Quick Cuts:

The Traveler’s Tale – John Carpenter kicks off this book with a wonderfully realized setting and the feel of a perfect Twilight Zone episode.

Ratings: 4.5 out of 5

Carnevil Max –Daniel Leister from last week’s Lord of Gore helps deliver a twisted game show tale with a spectacular creepy ending.

Ratings: 5 out of 5

The Posse –Who doesn’t love horror in the Old West?

Ratings: 5 out of 5

The Finger – My favorite.  The final panel was haunting.

Ratings: 5 out of 5

Patterns – If An Inconvenient Truth scared you, this will leave you terrified.

Ratings: 5 out 5

The Basement – An origin story to the next slasher I want to see on screen.

Ratings: 4 out of 5

So Happy – Killer Klowns from Outer Space run an amusement park.

Ratings: 4 out of 5

Just Stories – Enjoyed the black and white art of Dexter meets mountain man.

Ratings: 4 out of 5

Hands Free – Solid Art. Solid Story.

Ratings: 3 out of 5

‘Til Death –If you thought Gone Girl was scary, this kicks it up a whole new level.

Ratings: 5 out of 5

Mr. Goodnight –Very vivid art, a little short on compelling story telling.  

Ratings: 3 out 5

Safe from Harm – A little confusing, but felt like an old radio drama.

Ratings: 3.5 out of 5

House of the Rising Son – Great Art. Lettering was too bad to ignore.

Ratings: 3 out of 5.

This was a ton of fun and encourage everyone to check out this book.  Also check out my interview with Amanda Deibert and Catt Staggs, the creative team behind the Til Death story talk about their creative process and more here.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Halloween III: Season of the Witch

halloween - poster

Remember when two highly successful movies were made about a silent psychopath who killed people like it was his job* and followed it up with a movie about a sinister organization making Halloween masks stuffed with Stonehenge fragments that would activate when a commercial played, turning the mask wearer’s face into a sludge of snakes and spiders?  Do you remember a scene when we saw snakes crawl out of the face of a child?

halloween - dead childDo you also remember that the main character was a doctor who just walked around banging every woman in sight?  Just every single woman.  “Hello.  I’m Dr. Daniel Challis, and…”  They never got past that point.  Boom.  Sex.  Just like that.  Always like that.
Given that he was played by sex god Tom Atkins, I guess that’s not overly surprising.

halloween - daniel challis

Good.  Because I also remember that.  I remember all of that, all of the time.

Part of me wishes the film had taken off and turned the Halloween series into a horror anthology series.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the Halloween series (except for Resurrection, because I’m a rationally thinking human being), but the idea of a horror anthology series based around the season of Halloween intrigues me, especially if John Carpenter and Debra Hill stayed on to oversee all of it.

halloween-marchingThen again, we would have lost out on Paul Rudd’s turn as Tommy Doyle and Danielle Harris’ young introduction to horror.  We also would have lost out on H20, and that is unacceptable.

halloween - kids in masks

I have grown to love Halloween III, in part because it is such a strange chapter in a fairly straightforward slasher series.  This movie came out in 1982, the same year as Friday the 13th 3D.  Each of them was the third installment in their respective series, yet they could not be more different.  I love that.

*Given the fact that Michael Myers was being ruled by a secret cabal of monks or whatever (The Curse of Michael Myers), I guess killing probably was, in fact, his job.

The Fog: Movie Review

fog - poster

Synopsis:
On the eve of its centennial celebration, a fog bank appears off the coast of Antonio Bay in California.  People are murdered.  Windows are shattered.  Electricity flickers.  It vanishes at the stroke of 1am, but it returns that night.  The fog, you guys.  THERE’S SOMETHING IN THE FOG.

Thoughts:
I have a terrible confession: I had never seen this movie before.  As I mentioned recently, I have seen the remake many times (fine, I’ll say it: I’ve seen it too many times), but I never saw this one.  It’s unacceptable and I apologize to you all.

fog - radio station

That being said…

This movie, man.  THIS MOVIE.  I loved it so much.  Sure, the CGI fog looked a little cheesy at times, but it was 1980.  I found it to be perfectly acceptable 80s fog.

fog - ghosts 2We find out very early how many people are going to die, so each death feels like a countdown.  “That’s four down!  Two more to go!  Who’s next?  The mayor?  He looks like he can’t outrun zombie fog pirates.  I bet it’s him.”

fog - ghost stabThe entire movie felt like a story being told around a campfire, somewhere far away from civilization.  It was dark and dreary and ghosty and amazing.

The soundtrack is incredible (no surprise there: John Carpenter always brings the heat) and the cast was dynamite.  In fact, let’s just give a rundown of some of the cast.

fog - sandyNancy Loomis.  NANCY LOOMIS!  She’s the best.  She’s basically her same, sarcastic, Annie Brackett-ian self here and it’s perfect.  She’s perfect.  She should be in more movies.  I need to call her and tell her that.

fog - elizabethJamie Lee Curtis.  1980 was a big year for her.  The Fog released in February, Prom Night in July and Terror Train in October.  In this movie she plays a carefree hitchhiker who quick falls prey to the sexual prowess of…

fog - nickTom Atkins.  He played a ladykiller (what else would he play?) named Nick Castle.  Man, that’s a cool name.  (It’s also the name of the actor who played Michael Myers in the original Halloween.)  He seriously goes from meeting Jamie Lee Curtis to having sex with her in about 5 minutes.  During that time all the windows are shattered in his truck by ghost fog and he’s all, “What was that?  Let’s go back to my place.”

fog - stevie wayneAdrienne Barbeau.  She plays local DJ Stevie Wayne and she’s amazing.  She essentially works as the narrator for the rest of the town, and goes from “seductive DJ voice” to “concerned mother voice” at the drop of a hat.    She really is incredible in this.  And Stevie Wayne?  What a name.  I love it.

fog - kathyJanet Leigh.  Organizer of the town’s centennial celebration and wife to one of the first victim’s.  She spends the vast majority of the movie in a state of panic that the town’s celebration won’t go well, and the rest of it in fear of being stabbed.  She’s great.

fog - father maloneHal Holbrook.  Last but not least, the man who discovers the town’s terrible secret hiding in the walls of the church: Father Malone.  As soon as he finds out how the town was truly founded, he wants nothing more than to burn everything to the ground.  Or die.  Or both.

I will be watching this movie multiple times a year, most likely on dark and rainy nights.

Rating: 5/5

Boo! John Carpenter Returns to the Halloween Franchise

Boo! John Carpenter Returns to Halloween Franchise!

In case you missed it, Blumhouse has announced that they have brought John Carpenter back into the Halloween franchise.  He will be producing the next installment in the series, set to release in October 2017.

I do not like this.

As you all well know, Carpenter is the man responsible for first bringing Michael Myers into our world back in 1978, effectively giving birth to the slasher boom of the 80s.  Even after all these years, Halloween is just as good today as it was when it was released (I assume, anyway: I was -2 at the time of its release).  It looks amazing, the acting is incredible and it features one of the best theme songs in horror history.

Carpenter wrote and produced Halloween II (one of the best horror sequels ever made) and produced Halloween III: Season of the Witch.  He had success outside this series as well, with an insane filmography that includes The Thing, The Fog, Escape From New York, Prince of Darkness, They Live and In the Mouth of Madness, to name a few.

His recent history, however, has not been so kind.  The last three movies he directed were Vampires (1998), Ghosts of Mars (2001) and The Ward (2010).  The Rotten Tomatoes scores for those are 37%, 21% and 32%, respectively.  Rotten Tomatoes scores are nothing compared to the losses these racked up.  Vampires brought in $20.3 million on a budget of $20 million.  Ghosts of Mars brought in $14 million on a budget of $28 million.  The Ward brought in $1.2 million on a budget of $10 million.

For the record, I didn’t hate any of those movies, but I wouldn’t call a single one of those a good movie.  They are terrible movies, but they’re bad enough that I can laugh at them.

But he’s not directing this new Halloween movie, so let’s throw those out the window.  Get outta here, Ghosts of Mars.  He’s merely producing this movie.  So let’s look at the last two movies he produced.

Uh…
Vampires: Los Muertos and The Fog.  Yeeeesh.
Vampires: Los Muertos is best known for starring Jon Bon Jovi, Darius McCrary and Natasha Gregson Wagner.  Rotten Tomatoes has this at 20%.  I can’t find budget/box office numbers.
The Fog is a remake of Carpenter’s classic.  It stars Maggie Grace, Selma Blair and some other random people.  Rotten Tomatoes has this at 4%.  It brought in $46.2 million on a budget of $18 million, so it did pretty well there.  However, as the Rotten Tomatoes score shows, this was not a good movie.

Due to circumstances I don’t care to explain, I have seen each of these movies no less than 4 times each.  I have problems.  I know it.
Again, like Vampires, Ghosts of Mars and The Ward, I don’t hate these movies, but they are not good movies.  These are both very bad movies.  They just happen to be bad in a way that I can laugh at them.

That’s not what I want for a new Halloween film.  I don’t want a Halloween movie that is so bad it’s funny.  They tried that with Resurrection, but they tried to actually make it funny and failed miserably.  MISERABLY.  I hate that movie so much.

A producer could be anything.  Carpenter could just be put in the role as a figurehead: a way to drum up press and get people talking.  When work starts on the movie, Carpenter could be a thousand miles away, with absolutely no involvement.  He could just as easily be in some kind of on-set consultant role.  Whichever way it goes, it doesn’t guarantee the movie is going to be good just because his name is slapped on it.  This could just as easily turn into The Fog remake all over again.

Carpenter stepped away from movies after 2001’s Ghosts of Mars because he felt “burned out.”  I doubt his experience with The Ward lit any fire underneath him.  He has released two stellar albums (Lost Themes and Lost Themes II), but nothing in regards to film.  I love John Carpenter.  He has done wonders for the horror genre, but I think it’s time for him to finally fade into the cinematic sunset.

This movie could be good, but Carpenter won’t likely have much to do with it.  Call me when a writer/director is announced.

Yay! John Carpenter Returns to Halloween Franchise!

In case you missed it, Blumhouse has announced that they have brought John Carpenter back to the Halloween franchise.  He will be producing the next installment in the series, set to release in October 2017.

I love this.

As you all well know, Carpenter is the man responsible for first bringing Michael Myers into our world back in 1978, effectively giving birth to the slasher boom of the 80s.  Even after all these years, Halloween is just as good today as it was when it was released (I assume, anyway: I was -2 at the time of its release).  It looks amazing, the acting is incredible and it features one of the best theme songs in horror history.

Carpenter wrote and produced Halloween II (one of the best horror sequels ever made) and produced Halloween III: Season of the Witch.  He had success outside this series as well, with an insane filmography that includes The Thing, The Fog, Escape From New York, Prince of Darkness, They Live and In the Mouth of Madness, to name a few.

Meanwhile, Rob Zombie’s Halloween series has slowly withered and died.  They didn’t do terribly in the box office (Halloween II brought in $39.3 million on a budget of $15 million), but interest waned with each passing year since the release of Halloween II in 2009.  All we had were rumors.  Zombie is coming back.  No he isn’t.  Scout Taylor-Compton is coming back.  No she isn’t.  The script has been written.  There is no script.  The movie is a go.  It’s not.  It is.  It’s not.  And on it went, until Dimension finally lost the rights.

I didn’t hate Zombie’s Halloween series.  I think saying that I “enjoyed” them might be a bit much, but I liked them both.  I didn’t really care about Myers’ childhood, but, for the most part I thought the first movie was a perfectly fine slasher movie.  The second one wasn’t as good, but I found it the more interesting movie of the two.  It mainly dealt with the fallout from the events of Halloween, and attempted to answer the question of what happens to a person after they experience such intense psychological trauma.  It’s not all sunshine and roses after the credits end; there’s pain and suffering and fear, and those feelings can completely reshape who a person is.  It wasn’t necessarily handled with the nuance it deserved, but it at least took on that subject.  (This is the movie that inspired my short-lived What Comes Next series.)

Still, it felt like Zombie’s Halloween had run its course.  It was time to bring the series back to basics.  And if anyone could do that, it would be John Carpenter.

I think the world is finally ready for another Halloween movie.  It’s hard to shock audiences nowadays, especially with a silent, masked killer.  But Halloween doesn’t need to shock.  It needs some tension.  It needs Michael Myers lurking in the shadows and a synth chord ready to hit at the best possible moment.  We all knew Michael Myers wasn’t gone forever.  He was always going to come back.  Who better to take the reins than Carpenter?  And in the month of October, no less.

I’m fully on board.