Directed by William Grefé [Other horror films: Sting of Death (1966), Death Curse of Tartu (1966), Impulse (1974), Mako: The Jaws of Death (1976), Whiskey Mountain (1977)]
I last saw Stanley back in 2009 for my first October Challenge. In the many years that had passed, I forgot how much I enjoyed it.
Part of this may well be the fact the version I watched back in 2009 was a 90 minute version, whereas what I watched this time around was 105 minutes. Truth be told, I couldn’t tell you what scenes have been added, but the additions did seem to flesh out the main character’s motivations better.
The main drawback this movie possesses is the long set-up time. It takes 45 minutes, thereabouts, for us to really get introduced to the horror elements. Beforehand, we’re meeting various characters, most of whom who are killed in the last hour of the film. While that in itself may seem strenuous, with the 70’s music in the background, and the lack of editing out small things, it just feels grueling. But once it picks up, I think the pace sails along pretty nicely.
The kills are nothing overly special, but I do rather enjoy some of them. The freeze-frame when one of the characters jumps into a pool filled with snakes was overly ridiculous, and I loved it. Truth be told, while it’s slower at the beginning, once the kills come along, Stanley does well for itself. The ending is a bit to be desired, but I don’t fault it all too much. One last note – one of the characters, a pill-popping, cocaine-sniffing ‘psycho’ was consistently one of the funniest around for his short screen time. A sluggish pace, yes, but this movie, I personally feel, was worth it.
Directed by Craig Pryce [Other horror films: Revenge of the Radioactive Reporter (1990)]
It’s been something like three years since I saw this last, and so I had forgotten the amount to which I enjoyed it.
First thing that came to mind watching this was the actors, a majority of which do a solid job despite the obviously low budget involved. Stephen McHattie (who played the main character in Pontypool over 15 years after this film) did quite well as this film’s protagonist. Dennis O’Connor, Cynthia Belliveau, Neve Campbell all do very well also (and seeing Campbell three years prior to Scream was interesting).
In fact, my favorite scenes early on was the believable chemistry between gravediggers Jake and Ed (played by Dennis O’Connor and Jaimz Woolvett, respectfully). Their friendship struck me as very realistic, and that surprised me in a movie of this budget. The actors I didn’t care for, including most prominently Brion James, were far outshone by those I did.
And that doesn’t usually happen – in fact, very rarely in most movies to actors stand out one way or the other to me. Here, they did. The actors really were the strong point of the film. That’s not to say the story was bad, but it wasn’t dripping in creativity. More so, the special effects, when need be, were lacking. And in fact, some of the scenes early on just felt wrong. That all said, I got a good feel for the characters, and deemed it enjoyable. In short, it’s low in quality, high in fun.
Directed by Alexandre Aja [Other horror films: Haute tension (2003), The Hills Have Eyes (2006), Mirrors (2008), Horns (2013), Crawl (2019)]
I don’t think anyone would claim this movie amazing, or I hope no one would, anyway. But it does accomplish it’s goal, and that’s to entertain the hell out of the audience.
Most of the characters are annoying idiots, but as half of them get eaten in the fantastic piranha rampage about halfway through the movie, I can’t rightly hold it against them. Some of the characters are solid, though – Sheriff Forester does all she can to both ensure the safety of her own children and her community. Deputy Fallon goes all out in trying to save people during the rampage. Jake’s valiant attempts to save Kelly, a character herself who sort of got pulled into this whole thing, show him a person of high worth. So we have some solid people, who I feel make up well for the Derricks of the world.
The gore in the movie, at least to me, is the biggest selling point, and I feel they did pretty well. The aforementioned massacre has long been a favorite scene of mine – the blood, the chaos, all done so wonderfully. The nudity’s a bit less captivating, but I can only imagine it’d help pull some more people in to watch the film. Overall, this second Piranha remake (after the 1995 failure few recall) is quite enjoyable for what it is. It’s not amazing, not to me, but it does what it set out to do, and that’s all I can ask.
Directed by Nick Millard [Other horror films: Satan’s Black Wedding (1976), Doctor Bloodbath (1987), Death Nurse (1987), Criminally Insane 2 (1987), Cemetery Sisters (1987), Death Nurse 2 (1988), Dracula in Vegas (1999), The Turn of the Screw (2003)]
I’ve long heard of this one, but I never knew how much of a hoot it’d be. Which is sort of ironic, as, at least in my opinion, there was very little in the film itself that was meant to be light-hearted. But the idea of a morbidly obese woman going on a rampage to ensure she can continue eating food at her own pace is definitely liable to raise some eyebrows and cause a chuckle or two.
The quality was what you’d expect of a grindhouse horror film, but I liked it all the more for that. The death scenes weren’t amazing – the blood is among some of the fakest blood I’ve seen in some time – but at the same time, they had heart. And this movie, with the short running time of an hour and one minute, certainly had the deaths to keep in interesting.
The story’s not particularly deep, and the acting isn’t always amazing (though our murderess, Priscilla Alden, does a very solid job in her role), but it is a very amusing flick. There was a sequel released in the late 80’s, starring Alden also, but I hear it lacks much of what this provided. If you’re a fan of 70’s grindhouse horror, and don’t mind iffy quality, I’d recommend giving this a go. Worst case scenario, you’d out an hour of your life. I found it worth it.
Directed by Bruce McDonald [Other horror films: Hellions (2015)]
I think, if I recall, this would be the third or fourth time I’ve seen Pontypool. And I’m still not sure how I really feel.
On one hand, I wish they had delved into the logic behind the infection/disease a hell of a lot more. On the other hand, the characters present didn’t know, nor had any idea how to really find out, and were more concerned about their own survival as opposed to the hows and the whys of this disease. The doctor, who’s personality was deeply amusing, was of little help, and seemed moderately unhinged himself, but still did what he could to help out the main characters.
The chaos in this film is very heavy, and coupled with the fact that we really don’t have an answer as to how this infection came about by the end of the movie, really makes it a hard one to judge. The idea of hearing second hand the horrors going on outside was pretty cool, which reminded me of another film, being Dead Air (2009, starring Bill Moseley).
Stephen McHattie was a decent actor in his own right, but there are the occasional awkward scenes/lines. And the post-credit scene, well, I still have exactly zero idea what to make of that, despite the various theories I’ve read online. Pontypool is a mostly-claustrophobic film, some high-level suspense, and contains a somewhat confusing premise. Even after three or four viewings, I’m still not sure what to make of it. It definitely makes you think, though.
Directed by Stan Winston [Other horror films: Ghosts (1997)]
Personally, I never thought that Pumpkinhead got the love it deserved. For whatever the sequels were, the first Pumpkinhead, overall, is a damn solid film, and Lance Henriksen, an actor I generally don’t care for, put up a very good performance here. The set-up, showing a impoverished but loving father and son really allows us, as viewers, to understand why he wanted revenge after what happened to his son. And speaking of that, that scene in which he’s digging up the bones of Pumpkinhead has long been a favorite of mine, as the setting, a mist-covered, decrepit graveyard is truly a place you’d think twice before entering.
The on-going drama between the kids was less interesting, but as most of them die by the end of the film, such is life. Also, the fact that unlike many, if not most, 80’s horror films, Pumpkinhead is deadly serious has always struck me an interesting choice. There’s no humor to be found in this movie, not really even with the scenes featuring the kids. In many ways, it feels more like a 70’s movie than an 80’s one. One last note – the setting as a whole deeply intrigues me. Those people really look as though they’re living in 1920’s West Virginia poor communities. And yet, communities like that still exist, and certainly did back in 1988. Exaggerated a bit? Sure, but on the whole, that setting, for some reason, appealed greatly to me. Pumpkinhead’s a good film. Not perfect by any means, but a very solid title all the same.
Directed by Richard C. Kahn [Other horror films: N/A]
This is an oddity, one of the first all African-American casted horror movies. As such, it’s as Poverty Row as one could imagine. Also, the version widely available seems to be missing a minute or two halfway through the film (which is already short – clocks in at just over an hour). Sound quality, or video quality, for that matter, wasn’t up to par for even my standards of the time period, but it was just about as good as I remembered it.
Really, it’s just a generic movie, with some okay light-hearted comedic portions provided by one of the characters (who was actually played by a writer of the script) and an almost-threatening atmosphere. It falls short, though, of it’s aims, and overall, seems an overly forgettable movie, especially as so many other horror films, some great, came out around the same time. The points I give it are mainly for the setting itself (a house, which, while generic, was used to good effect in the film) and some of the more humorous lines.
(Note: This was one of the reviews I wrote early on, so it’s shorter and far less in-depth than my more recent ones. Should I rewatch the film, I’ll update my review.)
Directed by Clive Barker [Other horror films: Nightbreed (1990), Lord of Illusions (1995), Clive Barker’s Salomé & The Forbidden (1998)]
This is a good film, and it’s still a good film upon seeing it again, but some parts just rub me the wrong way, one of them being Kirsty’s first on-screen appearance. She seems agitated, and is acting, in my opinion, oddly, yet no reason for this is given (unless it’s just the stress of moving to London, which is possible). That’s another issue I had, though – while this movie is supposed to take place in London, most of the characters seem to have American accents. I realize that this was a decision by someone who believed that it’d help with American viewership, but still, it sort of took me out of the immersive experience I’d have preferred.
Lastly, the homeless man/demon is following Kirsty before there’s any real reason for him to do so. Again, never expanded on. Still, the movie is solid. Cenobites are fantastic, Kirsty is a decent (and easy on the eyes) character, and Frank/Julie are quite the threatening pair. And of course the special effects are extremely solid for the most part. Overall, it’s a good film with a flaw or two. Certainly worth the watch if you’ve not seen it before. Great 80’s horror.
Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I covered this film in a ten-minute conversation on Fight Evil’s fifth podcast. Listen below if interested.