More than a week has passed since Halloween, and I’m just now getting around to writing about the movies Beth and I watched in October. My excuse is that there was one that we received in October, but didn’t watch until last night. Most of the reviews contain spoilers, so I’d avoid them if any of these are movies you haven’t seen and want to someday.
The Thing – It’s clobberin’ time! No, wait, not that Thing. It’s actually John Carpenter’s 1982 film about a shape-shifting alien that terrorizes a research station in Antarctica. Not only do the people there not trust each other, but they’re not even totally sure they can trust themselves. I also realized that the Futurama episode “Murder on the Planet Express” contains some very obvious allusions to the movie.
Also, Wilford Brimley is in the film, but he never tries feeding the alien oatmeal.
They Live – Another movie starring Keith David, which isn’t a coincidence as I added both of them to the Netflix queue after hearing him mention them at the Monster-Mania Convention. Disappointingly, he didn’t mention Gargoyles at all. The film is really more of a satirical action film than a horror flick, but it has some elements of the latter genre. Wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper stars as a blue-collar worker who discovers that business and consumer culture are under the control of evil aliens. It’s pretty silly, and the fight scene between Piper and David goes on way too long (and there isn’t even any particular reason why they’re fighting in the first place); but it has some valid points about the divide between Haves and Have-Nots. At one point, a character (I think it was David’s) talks about the government bailing out the steel industry, and the industry then giving bonuses to its executives. The truly scary part is how this is still quite relevant thirty years later. The main thing I knew about this movie before seeing it was that Piper uses the wonderfully bizarre line, “I have come here to kick ass and chew bubblegum, and I’m all out of bubblegum.” I have to wonder what the line might have been in earlier drafts of the script. (“I have come here to kick ass and do yo-yo tricks, and I don’t have a yo-yo”?) Also, apparently there’s a market for Rolex watches because they can be used as communication devices and emergency transportation. Now I just have to figure out what mystical abilities Coach bags have.
The Cabin in the Woods – I’m not that familiar with Joss Whedon, but I’m constantly coming across people who seem to think he can do no wrong. I know he wrote the screenplay for The Avengers, which I thought had really good dialogue. On the other hand, the very little I’ve seen of Buffy the Vampire Slayer just looked too soap-opera-ish for my tastes. Beth described this one as a horror movie for people who don’t like horror movies, sort of a deconstruction of the genre that encourages you to laugh at the tropes rather than with them. There’s an element of actual horror, though, in that the cabin where psychos kill horny teenagers is a front for sacrifices to Lovecraft-style gods. While perhaps not the main theme, I found it interesting that both this and They Live dealt with how humans can normalize atrocities. In this one, there’s an organization of ordinary people orchestrating the sacrifices, and constantly joking around about it and running betting pools about the kids’ fates. In They Live, humans are willing to go along with the aliens’ plans for world domination as long as there’s money in it for them. Alien beings are pulling the strings in both, but they rely on people to make sure things go according to plan.
Maniac! – The story of the world’s whiniest serial killer. Seriously, he’s constantly whining to himself in between killing people. Like many psychopaths in the movies, he’s obsessed with his abusive late mother. Does that kind of thing actually happen in real life? He goes around killing women, scalping them, and putting the scalps on mannequins. Eventually, there’s a scene where the mannequins come to life and kill him, but it’s implied that he really stabbed himself.
Bloodsucking Freaks – A magician called Sardu runs a stage show that involves performing various sadistic acts on naked women. When some people heckle his act, he kidnaps two of them, a critic and a ballerina, to force them into his service. The ballerina’s boyfriend enlists the help of a cop to rescue the prisoners, but they turn out to be thoroughly brainwashed. If you like torture mixed with a lot of exposed boobs and butts, this movie is for you! Strangely, I don’t think any of the freaks in it ever suck any blood. Apparently Troma gave the movie that title when they distributed it, and it was called The Incredible Torture Show before that. I like that title better, as it fits more with the campy nature, in addition to being more accurate.
That’s it for now. The next movie we have to watch is Wreck-It Ralph, obviously not a horror film. Then again, the idea of video game characters coming to life COULD make a viable horror scenario. I wonder if it’s been done.