Since Beth has been asking me to write about the horror and horror-adjacent films we’ve watched recently, here they are:
Hatchet III – In the third part in the story of monstrous serial killer Victor Crowley, a reporter thinks she’s found out the way to stop Victor Crowley for good: to return his father’s remains to him. To this end, she recruits Danielle Harris’ character from the earlier installments. A large part of the appeal of this series is all the appearances of horror movie veterans. Kane Hodder portrays Crowley, Zach Galligan from Gremlins the sheriff, the SWAT team leader by Derek Mears from the Friday the 13th remake, and Crowley’s brain-damaged racist cousin by Sid Haig. The thing is, I can’t remember that much from the other two films. Not that you necessarily need to know that much to watch a slasher, but still.
The Witch – This period horror film is set in seventeenth-century New England, featuring a Puritan family banned from the larger community for being TOO strict in their interpretation of the Bible, which is definitely saying something. It’s based on witchcraft legends of the period, which in the context of the movie turn out to be true. It’s fairly slow-moving and didn’t always hold my interest, but it does a good job at creating an atmosphere.
Frozen – This came out a few years before the Disney film of the same name, but there were other movies with the same title before this one, so neither was original. It’s the story of three annoying college students who end up trapped on a ski lift, argue a lot, and try to escape. I guess it’s all right for what it is; it certainly showed the despair of the situation. The main thing I got from it was that you should always follow the rules, because they wouldn’t have been stuck up there if they hadn’t bribed and cajoled the operator into making a special exception for them.
Pieces – After an establishing scene showing a mother overreacting to her son putting together a jigsaw puzzle of a naked woman and the son murdering her, we cut to a college campus about forty years later, where the now-grown-up killer is trying to assemble the woman from the puzzle out of actual human body parts. The thing is, while we know the killer is the kid from the beginning, we don’t know his grown-up self, and several different characters are suspects. A lot of the murders are done with a chainsaw, which was pretty common after The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, only it’s even less realistic here. It’s a very corny slasher film with a few moments that don’t even make sense in context, like the appearance of a goofy Asian stereotype martial arts instructor who never appears again, and what happens at the very end. Also, there’s a tennis player who goes undercover as a tennis instructor to try to catch the killer. It’s so hard to find volunteers for cases like that, I suppose.
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark – Beth, who had seen this before (I hadn’t), compared it to UHF, and I see what she means; it’s the same sort of generally light-hearted absurdity, and it’s also a film from the 1980s based around a comedian with a specialization. There are a lot more breast jokes, though. There’s also a little bit of a John Waters feel in the mockery of prudish, repressive people, here living in a town called Fallwell (get it?) where Elvira goes to collect her inheritance from an aunt she didn’t know she had, hoping to obtain enough money to launch a show in Las Vegas. She fixes up her aunt’s old house, intending to sell it, and finds out that her aunt was a witch and her uncle an evil sorcerer trying to get his hands on her spells. This doesn’t happen until after a scene where Elvira tries to cook a casserole that turns into a monster, though. It’s interesting that I saw this when the Harvey Weinstein harassment story was in the news, as it starts with Elvira losing her job at the television station after she fights off the new station owner when he sexually harasses her. Overall, it’s silly and campy, as you’d likely expect an Elvira movie to be.