Monday, January 23, 2017

31 Days of Spooky Movies: Jaws

Day #22b


Greed and under-handed politics allow a rogue shark to cause the deaths of multiple people in a New England resort town.

Fright Factor:
1 / 5 Selfish Politicians

Gore Factor:
1.8 / 5 Aquatic Robo-Maulings

Should You Watch It?

The first thing you should know about Jaws is that it is was made over 40 years old.

The second thing you should know about Jaws is that is was originally going to be a more stereotypical horror movie, but later became a more character driven piece because they werent capable of making a decent enough shark.

So yeah, its not a very scary movie these days.

The film certainly tries to demonize sharks, but its all just so silly. If you know anything about sharks youll know that the movie is totally talking out of its ass most of the time.

But heres the thing though: Jaws is kind of creepy, but not because of the shark. Jaws is creepy because of its accurate and biting portrayal of a different sort of alpha predators: Politicians.

Okay, so hear me out here as I describe the basic flow of the movie. [Spoiler alerts, I guess?]

So a young girl gets killed in a shark attack. It was a freak thing and its a tragedy. The chief of police is like, Fuck! We gotta deal with this before anyone else gets hurt. Lets close the beaches until we deal with this problem.

The Mayor and his goon squad are like, No. No way! This is prime money season here. If we close the beaches people will be pissed at me and never re-elect me. Were gonna do nothing, youre especially gonna do nothing, and maybe the problem will just go away.

Okie dokie, says the dumbass police chief (Aka the hero(?) of the movie).

Well guess the fuck what?! The shark that they did NOTHING about? It kills enough people that the Mayor is finally forced to do something about it, so he puts a drunken shark-hating fisherman, shark-expert Richard Dreyfus, and the boot-licking pushover chief of police on a boat and sends them to go kill the shark.

All the while that mayor and his cronies are safe on dry land and they let the chief take the blame for not taking proper safety precautions.

And people watched this movie and somehow came away with, OMG sharks are like so totally scary!

What. The. Fuck.

If anything the takeaway from this movie should be that elected officials are selfish pricks who will gladly sell out the lives of everyday folks if it means making money / staying in power.

THATS the part of Jaws thats scary.

So Jaws is not a movie to watch if you want to be freak yourself out and have an excuse to cuddle with a hottie.

That being said, Jaws is a pop-culture powerhouse. Even today this movie is referenced EVERYWHERE. So even if it’s not gonna freak you out, I still think it’s worth a watch if only so you can see the influence it’s had and the many references to it floating around out there.

Just know that politicians are far more scary than sharks will ever be.

“Where are we going?”


Sunday, January 22, 2017

31 Days of Spooky Movies: Cooties

Day #22


When the children of an elementary school are turned into murderous cannibals by a batch of bad chicken nuggets, the teachers must band together against them in order to survive.

Fright Factor:
2 / 5 Children

Gore Factor:
3 / 5 Health Code Violations

Should I Watch it?

A zombie-comedy where teachers have to fight off zombie kids? I was kind of shocked I had never heard about this one before. Just look at the cast: Elijah Wood, Alison Pill, Rainn Wilson, Jack McBrayer, Nasim Predrad, Peter Kwang. 

I so badly wanted to enjoy it, but it turns out this movie is not very good. The humor is composed almost entirely of the same idiotic stereotypes and cheap jokes that we’ve all seen a million times before. How they managed to take such an original premise and make such a trite product out of it is beyond me.

But instead of talking about the shitshow that was this movie’s hackneyed writing,...let’s not!

Anyways, the question at hand isn’t whether or not the movie is “Good” (it’s not), but whether or not it’s worth watching. It probably isn’t. There are a few good moments, but overall it is a subtly unfortunate and underwhelming experience.

P.S. There are more children of color in the background posters of this one screenshot than there are in the entirety of this school.

“Nap time, motherfuckers.”

Sunday, January 15, 2017

31 Days of Spooky Movies: Life After Beth

Day # 21

Life After Beth

When a young man’s girlfriend dies unexpectedly he wishes nothing more than to have her back.

But then she does come back...and it’s not exactly what he had in mind.

Fright Factor:
1 / 5 Smooth Jazz Stations

Gore Factor:
2 / 5  Failed Nature Hikes

Should you watch it?

I really wish I liked this movie. It has some fun actors (Aubrey Plaza, John C. Reilly, and Molly Shannon is particular) and all sorts of potential. But goshdarnit do I ever dislike the main character. I don’t know if it’s the writing or the actor or what, but he is just a big ol’ pill.

There are some funny bits in the movie, but overall it’s a bit of a slog. If you’re in the mood for a Horror-Comedy you could do worse, but you could do a lot better too.

“You don’t want to eat me, do you?”

“Zach! Not right now. Remember?”

“no...I mean really eat me.”

“Stop. Not with my parents around. Come on.”

Monday, January 9, 2017

31 Days of Spooky Movies: The Amityville Horror (1979)

Day #20

The Amityville Horror

A man and his family move into a new home only to find out that it was built on the site of a grizzly murder / ancient Indian burial ground / former home of a Satanic worshiper / hell well.

Fright Factor:
1.5 / 5 Cases of Domestic Abuse

Gore Factor:
1 / 5 Backed-up Hellmouth Septic Tanks

Should you watch it?

Unless you are intrigued by its position of horror notoriety or interested in seeing what the 2005 remake was based on, then I’d probably recommend not bothering with this one.

But as for me? Well, after watching the 2005 version I was intrigued; I had enjoyed a lot of things about it, but it strongly had that overly-glossy feel that’s so common among  remakes of classic movies. “I wonder what the original must have been like?” I mused. Maybe it was just as good, but grittier and more original?

It turns out that I wasn’t giving the remake nearly enough credit, because damn! They trimmed the fat of this thing in a big way. I don’t want to write about this movie any longer than I already have to, so let’s focus on the two central parts of the story that make this version so very different from the remake / the main reasons why this movie is so ridiculous: the main character and the source of the evil.

Main Character:

I can’t believe they’re gonna make me say this, but Ryan Reynolds out-acted the shit out of James Brolin here. It comes down to one key difference: Reynolds’ performance actually managed to get the point across that the house was corrupting him. If anything Brolin’s character seems to be a stereotypical man from the late 70s who has developed a drinking problem and a tendency towards taking his anger out on his family. One of the these characters is supernaturally spooky. The other is a something better suited for a serious drama and not a movie full of priests getting repeatedly slapsticked by Satan.

The Evil:

2005 version:
The house is the source of the evil influence and it can only affect those in its presence.

1979 version:
The house/land/something-or-other is possessed (kinda?)...possibly by Satan/ghosts/ancient ritual magics? What’s more, it can supernaturally fuck with whoever the hell it wants to and there’s really no escaping its wrath...sometimes. I spent a fair bit of this movie trying to work out just what exactly the limits of its powers were, but I’m still none the wiser. It seems to go from utterly unstoppable to utterly inept in the span of seconds. I have come to the conclusion that the movie was just poorly written and thus trying to make sense of it is a fool’s errand.

So in conclusion: This movie is pretty stupid and hopelessly dated. If you’ve encountered domestic abuse in your life then some of these scenes might make you a bit uncomfortable and bring back some bad memories, but all the Horror-genre elements of the movie are far from scary. However, if you find bricks slathered in red paint and the cultural horror that was the 1970s frightening? Then by all means, enjoy The Amityville Horror.

“Jesus Christ, it gets worse all the time.”