Here are my thoughts on the four movies I’ve watched most recently, all with SPOILERS.
Body Bags – A 1993 film consisting of three different segments, the first two directed by John Carpenter and the last by Tobe Hooper. Carpenter does wrap-around bits in the character of a coroner who makes gross jokes, in the style of the Crypt-Keeper. The first part, “The Gas Station,” is about a college student starting to work the graveyard shift at the titular place, and pretty much everything going wrong immediately. The customers are mostly weird guys who try to hit on her, and that’s before the escaped serial killer shows up. Carpenter is self-referential in saying that the killer is from Haddonfield, Illinois; and Wes Craven and Sam Raimi play supporting roles. It’s the most genuinely disturbing of the three, as even though it has some humor, it’s nowhere near as silly as the other two. “Hair” is a really goofy one about a guy who’s obsessed with his hair loss, and seeks an experimental treatment that he sees on an infomercial. It gives him a very full head of hair, but it soon starts to grow uncontrollably, and we’re shown that the hair strands are actually living beings that crawl around like little worms. It’s simultaneously funny and uncomfortable to watch, at least for me, but I’m often disturbed by the weirdest things. Finally, it’s revealed that the doctor and his staff are aliens who use the hair organisms to feed on human brains. Beth recognized the doctor as David Warner, whom we both knew originally from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, but has been in a lot of other stuff; but neither of us noticed that his flirtatious nurse was Debbie Harry, who’s been popping up a lot in stuff I’ve seen recently. I guess it was a really good wig. The last one, “Eye,” is another story about surgery gone wrong, which makes the first even more of the odd one out. Mark Hamill features as a baseball player who loses an eye. Fortunately, a surgeon gives him an experimental transplant. Unfortunately, it came from a serial killer, and it still retains some of his personality, making Mark intermittently try to kill his wife. She was played by Twiggy, who’s certainly someone I’ve heard about, but don’t think I’ve ever seen actually do anything. What’s kind of funny is that “Hair” immediately made me think of the Simpsons Halloween story “Hell Toupee,” but its plot is actually way more similar to “Eye.” From what I’ve seen online, the Simpsons segment was mostly a parody of Shocker.
A Goofy Movie – Neither Beth nor I had any particular interest in seeing this. In fact, I’m pretty sure I remember turning down a chance to see it at the movies. I never watched Goof Troop much either. Our friend Tavie didn’t really like the show either, but loved this movie, so it was on her recommendation that we saw it. My verdict is that it wasn’t bad, but I don’t feel richer for having seen it. The plot is about Goofy feeling he’s growing apart from Max, so he plans a fishing trip in Nevada for the two of them without knowing that Max already had a date to a party with Roxanne, a girl he had a crush on. To try to lessen the blow of canceling the date, he tells Roxanne he’s going to a big concert in Los Angeles, and that his dad knows the performer. Honestly, I wouldn’t think it would have been too crazy if it had turned out Goofy really DID know the guy, but that’s not how it worked out. Instead, Max tries to take advantage of Goofy’s naivete to direct him to LA instead of Nevada. It’s kind of hard to feel bad for Max when he’s so prone to lying and manipulation. When he finally goes to apologize to Roxanne, Goofy tells him that if she doesn’t forgive him, she might not be the one. So “the one” is someone who’s okay with being lied to? And of course, she does forgive him, although I don’t think she shows up in any media after that, including the direct-to-video sequel. Pete shows up a few times to give Goofy some bad parenting advice, when his own son is clearly terrified of him. The beginning of the movie establishes that Goofy and Pete are both baby photographers, even though I’m pretty sure the latter was a used car salesman in Goof Troop. Pete seems to be way richer than Goofy despite having a comparable job (Pete might be Goofy’s supervisor, but that’s still unlikely to make that much of a difference in pay), but maybe he’s just the kind of guy who maxes out his credit cards, or he has a profitable side hustle; he’s a crook in most continuities, after all. His wife and daughter don’t appear in the film at all. I did like some of the tacky roadside attractions that Goofy and Max visit on their trip, including one with bad animatronics and costumed characters. As Beth pointed out, it’s kind of weird that an official Disney product had a scene where kids beat up on a costumed guy, something that happens at Disney parks that I’m sure they would generally prefer to keep quiet. Also, some of the ways they show Goofy as being out of touch with Max’s generation are that he likes Xavier Cugat and drives an AMC Gremlin with an eight-track player. By the way, Max has a Mickey Mouse phone, but later we see Mickey and Donald hitchhiking, and Max makes a mention of Donald being a friend of Goofy’s.
So are the Disney big three just ordinary guys or celebrities in this world? I guess it doesn’t really matter.
Tar – Cate Blanchett stars as Lydia Tar, a famous and rather arrogant orchestral conductor, who, in addition to a lot of internal politics with her job, is also dealing with constant messages from a former student. When this person commits suicide, it comes out that Lydia had likely sexually harassed her, and is being sued by her parents. It’s never actually confirmed that she did anything untoward, but considering how she behaves toward another young cellist, being flirtatious towards her and giving her preferential treatment, it seems pretty likely. But it does also lead to other accusations that might not be true, as shown in an obviously doctored video of a class at Juilliard where she was pretty rude, but not to the extent shown. She’s forced to resign in disgrace, and no longer see her wife and daughter. It definitely relates to the recent talk about cancel culture, a presumably deliberately vague term that often just means people are being held responsible for their actions. There are also a few mentions of the pandemic. Lydia is not portrayed as a very sympathetic character. She tends to call everyone she doesn’t like a robot, and her wife tells her that all her relationships are transactional except the one with her daughter. Of course, she can also be quite personable and witty, and there are indications that her profession is just cruel and cutthroat in general.
Curse of Chucky – After two broadly comedic entries, the sixth entry in this series returns to more straight horror. It has some clear similarities to the original Child’s Play, including Chucky revealing himself to a naive child. It starts with Chucky being delivered to an old woman in an enormous old house, and killing her. Her daughter Nica, who lived with her and is played by Brad Dourif’s daughter Fiona, is then visited by her sister Barb’s family. Barb is resentful toward her paraplegic sister, trying to convince her to sell the house and move into an assisted living facility. She’s also having an affair with her daughter’s nanny. It turns out that the choice of family Chucky chooses to torment is not at all random; he knew their parents back when he was human, and kept the mother as a prisoner while convincing himself that they had an actual relationship. She manages to tip off the cops, leading to the beginning of the first movie, and he still blames her. He was also responsible for Nica’s disability, as he severely injured her when she was still in the womb. It is perhaps noteworthy that Charles Lee Ray comes across as a delusional, unsettling predator, while Chucky the doll is a savvy, wisecracking serial killer. But then, it’s much the same way with Freddy Krueger. Becoming supernatural does nothing to curb violent tendencies, but it apparently makes you more rational in how you approach your crimes. I couldn’t remember when Chucky’s body was last remade; I had thought it was the same one he’d had since Bride of Chucky, but in that case, wouldn’t he be unable to do the voodoo chant to transfer to another body, as he tries on the little girl at the end? But then, the very next scene shows him still in doll form, so it presumably didn’t work. I’m just not sure why he would have thought it would.