A load of new horror films with Halloween in mind hit the market this year. I’ve already looked at Volumes of Blood here, so now I take a quick look at four more. Are they mood setters?
One thing I can say for Honeyspider is that it nails the look and feel of classic Halloween. Nostalgia is top notch. There’s also a great 80s throwback synth score. But then there’s the movie itself….
This chick’s 21st birthday is on Halloween night. Her friend convinces her to go to a concert party. But first, she talks to her weird professor about the meaning of Halloween, fights with her dad on the phone, dances with her friend in her room, showers, and then goes to work at a movie theater, which is having a horror film festival. She dances around with her co-worker, has a run-in with a big furry spider, and then pukes in the bathroom.
Meanwhile, we get three cool kills by a masked psycho—in the movie that’s playing on the screen at the theater! I kid not. The only horror action for a majority of this film takes place in a different movie. And it’s gory good.
***SPOILERS***: Finally, the girl is kidnapped by a three-person cult (guess she’s never getting to that party, which means there was no point in introducing her friends). A witchy looking cult lady performs human sacrifices, and then the girl has an alternate dimension dream in black and white in which she is beckoned into a basement. THE END.
The lesson for filmmakers? Setting a movie on Halloween doesn’t automatically make it good. Hey, at least they play the Monster Mash in several montages throughout the movie. Personally, I’d like to see the director make a full-length film out of Sleepover Slaughterhouse Part III, the movie playing at the theater in the film. That film rox.
Gravy is pretty much just a gory comedy. It has a cool horror cast, including Michael Weston (Cherry Falls, Wishcraft), Jimmi Simpson (Stay Alive), and Gabourey Sidibe (American Horror Story: Coven), plus small appearances by comedians Sarah Silverman and Paul Rodriquez (you might only know him if you grew up in the 80s).
Actually, this film is not much in the way of Halloween themed. The extent of it is that the three baddies are dressed in their Halloween costumes when they invade a Mexican restaurant and tie up all the inhabitants, planning to eat them. They also chain the cook up in the kitchen to have him prepare his friends for dinner.
The comedy rarely worked for me. The cast was great and did what they could to elevate the attempts at dark humor a bit, but the film just drags on and on and goes nowhere (it’s way too long at an hour and forty minutes). At forty minutes in, one baddie says, “I’m bored as shit” and I was totally with her. Then, at an hour and ten minutes in, she says, “This is turning into a snoozefest.” WTF? It’s almost like the film is being self-referential!
It only actually gets somewhat funny during the final chase scene, but by that point, everything that happens is totally predictable. The soundtrack isn’t bad and includes “Sowing the Seeds of Love” by Tears for Fears, “(I Just) Died in Your Arms Tonight” by The Cutting Crew, “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina & the Waves, and, “La Bamba” by Los Lobos. But don’t expect that to help the film any.
ALL HALLOWS’ EVE 2
All Hallow’s Eve is one of my favorite Halloween horror anthologies, so I was psyched to learn there was a follow-up. But things are a bit different this time. The first film was an entire production in itself—each story was linked by the appearance of a freaky clown.
This “sequel” is really just a bunch of individual short films that have been brought together to create a full-length feature. The wraparound plot is the same—chick gets a VHS tape delivered to her door on Halloween—but in the first film, even the wraparound featured the clown. Also note that not all the shorts are Halloween themed, but there are a lot more of them than in the first film. Here’s the breakdown.
1st story – starting off with one of the most atmospheric Halloween shorts in the bunch, this one is actually titled “Jack.” I know because I saw it at several film festivals. This is a goodie about a babysitter who carves a pumpkin and serves the seeds to the child she’s watching with horrific results.
2nd story – Another great Halloween short. A paranoid man locks himself in his house because he fears the trick or treaters are actually monsters. There are some fantastic makeup effects in this one.
3rd story – On a snowy night, a father and son head into the woods to make a meat sacrifice to an unseen threat.
4th story – This one is chilling. After witnessing her friend’s murder, a woman finds herself trapped in an elevator with the killer.
5th story – Gruesome! An abused son gets his revenge during a carnival game.
6th story – A boy who lost his father keeps seeing monsters in his room. His mother attempts to convince him they’re not real….
7th story – Mirroring a situation that happens in the amazing Halloween horror film Satan’s Little Helper (my blog here), this short features a man using real bodies as his Halloween decorations.
8th story – The final story delves into the always creepy idea that your social media friend might be closer than you think.
Argh! Hellions so has the potential to be a Halloween winner. The Halloween atmosphere is fantastic, and the little “trick or treaters” that terrorize a teenager home alone on Halloween are freaky as hell.
The problem is, right from the beginning, this seems like one big anti-abortion PSA. The main girl finds out she’s pregnant and all imagery and attacks focus around her mindset and the possibility of giving birth—or not. Ugh. Even God and “the miracle of life” come into play. On the one hand, it’s a brilliant way to tackle the subject in a Halloween horror movie, on the other hand, it kind of feels like Halloween and abortion are being equated as two vile and evil things. It’s so heavy-handed it leaves me with no interest in ever visiting this one again.