Thursday, October 29, 2015

My Favorite Movies for the Halloween Season


Hello, fellow film critics and movie lovers! To celebrate the time of the season, I've decided to discuss some of my favorite movies to watch during the Halloween season. Some may be your typical choices, but others may come off as an obscure or even pleasant surprise. Ranging from stellar horror films to fun-filled goofy movies, here are my favorite films for the Halloween season.

Trick'r Treat (2007)

This horror film is the epitome of terror for the Halloween season. The movie tells a tale of one particular Halloween night in which a series of spooky events occur. From a tale of zombie schoolkids coming back from the dead to a virgin werewolf's first night out to kill, this festive film commemorates the holiday very well and remains one of the best horror films in recent years. It's a real treat laden with tricks!

Creepshow (1982)

Metaphorically, it's the precursor for Trick'r Treat. Creepshow started the idea of mini-episodes presented in a pulpy manner. This film, patterned with a talented cast of stars, is as humorous as it is terrifying. With an even balance of camp and stylish horror, this horror classic from George A. Romero and Stephen King suits the season and its creepy tone very well.

When Good Ghouls Go Bad (2001)

Now this one is a surprise to the unsuspecting reader that expects only the true horror and Halloween-themed classic. This obscure family Halloween film stars Christopher Lloyd as the main character's undead grandfather back by means of breaking a curse over the town forcing them to never celebrate Halloween. The movie, though not really scary or clever, is a lot of fun and filled with a ton of positive spirit for the holiday. Halloween is refreshed, restored, and glorified, showing its importance and true meaning with excellent storytelling and dialogue. This is one of my favorite Halloween films for its optimistic look at the holiday, which really does hit home for me.

Ernest Scared Stupid (1991)

To stray away from movies with meaning, I simply enjoy this one for its simplicity. There isn't much of a meaningful purpose behind this movie; it only makes me laugh. I've watched it ever since I was really little, and I still enjoy watching Ernest run around like a babbling idiot (as usual). It's a lot of crazy fun and, though not an expertly made film, is still a Halloween treat.

Halloween (1978)

This one doesn't take too much thinking to figure out. The iconic theme song, thick suspense, and excellent film-making make this film a staple for the holiday and its horror-marathoning fans.

The Evil Dead series (1981 - 1987)

Excluding Army of Darkness, the Evil Dead series lays out a perfect horror scenario and cleans house with a campy, bizarre bloodbath, both terrifying and entertaining the masses. At times, the movies are shot just well enough to induce nightmares, even in their low-budget simplicity. At other times, the dialogue and turn of events just gets so ridiculous that it's downright hilarious. The films feel like a horror funhouse. They're both a thrill and a laugh at the same time!

Boo (2005)

Now, this one is another obscure and subordinate Halloween movie in the eyes of the public. This horror takes place on Halloween when a group of teenagers break into an abandoned mental hospital that's claimed to be haunted. One by one, these teenagers become possessed and start fighting each other and "melting" at death. The movie is in no way the best, but it's still an interesting watch. It's much like an old movie from Sci-Fi; good for low quality expectations.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Firstly, this movie is NOT a Christmas movie! It's clearly a Halloween film. It starts on Halloween with Halloween characters and ends on Halloween. The film from the creative mind of Tim Burton has been known to bend its holiday intentions, but this is my argument. The movie has a memorable soundtrack with realistic themes and precise stop-motion animation. Since the very beginning of my life, this film has been a staple to my Halloween season marathon.

The Corpse Bride (2005)

Subsequently, this film is just as good and fitting for the season. With a gothic feel and haunting film-making, Burton creates another beautiful stop-motion creation. The whole concept of the undead and their world serves as ample evidence of a fun Halloween flick.

R. L. Stine's The Haunting Hour: Don't Think About It (2006)

Probably the most juvenile of the picks on my list, this movie makes the cut for its creepy atmosphere and impressive concept idea. The idea of a horrifying monster that comes to life and comes after you once you think about it is truly creative and a clever premise. With the writer's reigns being held by Goosebumps writer, R. L. Stine, the movie is bound to have an ample amount of scares and awesome plot twists for its target tween age group. I still watch this today for the memories it brings back and for recognition of its truly unique concept.

Hocus Pocus (1993)

You knew, if you've read any Halloween movie list or TV guide, that Hocus Pocus was going to make this list. The Halloween family classic is a notorious pick for all Halloween movie junkies to watch every season. Much like Halloween, this movie doesn't take much discussion to figure out why it's in my top Halloween list.

Well, fellow readers, you have reached the end of my list. Any surprises or was everything nice and predictable? These movies are all close to me for several different reasons whether it be content or childhood memory, and I try to watch them every Halloween season to celebrate. Maybe some of my picks are the same as yours. I hope each and every one of you have a safe, satisfying, and Happy Halloween! Thanks for reading my list!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989) review


   This is perhaps the strangest and weirdest addition to the famous horror franchise. A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child is a mix of hit-and-miss performances, terrible effects, and a weird, overly-cheesy tone. It was as if the filmmakers decided to make a fan film rather than an actual installment.

PLOT: Alice (Lisa Wilcox) has been living her life peacefully with a loving boyfriend, Dan (Danny Hassel), and also has a baby on the way. Until recently, notorious nightmare-killer, Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) had been destroyed and cut off from the real world. However, Krueger eventually finds a new way, using her baby's dreams to access the real world and kill more teenagers. Even worse, Krueger is "feeding" these souls to Alice's baby in the womb, brainwashing him to be Krueger's apprentice. Krueger has a more obvious weak spot this time, as he's afraid of his mother, Sister Amanda Krueger (Beatrice Boepple), who appears in the nightmares as well. Sister Krueger wants to capture her son back and keep him from killing anyone else. Somehow, Alice has to get Krueger away from her kid and quite possibly in the hands of Sister Krueger. The plot in itself is preposterous and executed in an illegible, illogical (at least in terms of the series) way. I'm starting to think the series should have ended with the previous installment. Because of this execution, nothing can even be taken seriously, for one would just laugh and queston how any of this makes any sense at all.

ACTING: The performances in this strange installment were mainly hit-and-miss, with Englund and Wilcox being the lead performances. They both did decent job, but in truth, all performances were rather messed up due to an awkward, unfunny script. Most people laughed at Krueger's cheesy kill jokes in the previous movies; however, the script is so bad in this addition that Krueger's lines couldn't even inspire a chuckle. A couple of other performances were decent, including Nick Mele as Dennis Johnson and Danny Hassel as Dan. They weren't exceptional, but definitely tolerable.

SCORE: The score in this one is way over-dramatic and unnecessary. It makes the movie feel like it's taking itself way too serious.

EFFECTS: The special effects in this movie, for the most part, were complete garbage. Everything looked goofy, fake, and just plain embarrassing for any horror movie in general to have. The only effects that were fairly decent would be the few claymation and digital effects. They were cool, but buried beneath the stinking heap of effects preceded by them. If you laugh at anything in this movie, laugh at how bad the effects are.

OTHER CONTENT: Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child is just a strange, unnecessary installment to a franchise that would have been better left alone. Everything feels weird, preposterous, and exhausted, as no variety is added to the franchise. If Krueger even fails to satisfy, the movie shouldn't have existed. The only emotions one could leave this movie with are embarrassment and confusion, for that's what this attempt at a horror movie is: a confusing embarrassment.

   A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child should not exist. There was no reason to make the movie except the possibility of making money off of trash. Terrible script, goofy special effects, and a preposterous plot pull this movie down to the bottom of the barrel. I suggest if anyone's a Freddy fan, skip this installment. None of it is even necessary.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) review


   In almost every major horror franchise or series there's a singular film within that certain series that is neither really bad nor really good. For the Freddy films, A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master fits this description. The movie's performances and overall quality falls, but not too far, as Freddy's nightmares are more fun-to-watch than they've been thus far. The scare factor isn't totally lost, but it is barely there as compared to the previous films that were actually good.

PLOT: Taking place several years after the last movie, Kristen (Tuesday Knight), now released from the mental facility, has been having reoccurring nightmares where she finds herself in Freddy's house, but with no signs of life. Kristen still pulls her old friends, Kincaid (Ken Sagoes) and Joey (Rodney Eastman), who are also out of the institution, into her dreams. They begin the get annoyed with this and try to reassure her that Freddy's dead for good. However, Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) is resurrected and begins to appear in the Elm Street teens dreams. Freddy has grown more powerful than ever, killing the original Elm Street kids. However, before she passes, Kristen makes a friend from class named Alice (Lisa Wilcox), whom she pulls into her dream and gives her "dream powers" to after Freddy kills her. Now, when Alice dreams of Freddy, she pulls a classmate in by accident and gains the skill of whatever that person was good at when Freddy kills them. Alice alone is the only person who can stop Freddy from taking the lives of the innocent teens on Elm Street. The plot is very well thought out, but relatively flat. After the old Elm Street kids are killed (which is early on in the movie), not much changes. In fact, the plot is forgotten and rushed into a kind of way where there's a nightmare/kill every ten minutes. The movie is mainly made up of kills with a premise but nothing else. The plot is trashed for stylistic killing.

ACTING: The performances in the movie aren't the best but aren't the worst either. Englund, Sagoes, and Eastman come back to reprise their roles, which they do fine job of. In this addition, Freddy is seen more throughout the movie and more of his character is shown, displaying for the audience how clever and sadistic Krueger can be. Switching out Patrica Arquette for Tuesday Knight was an overall bad choice, for she didn't give off the same effect as Arquette in the role. However, she wasn't the worst person they could've chosen.The only newer performance that was worth any significance was Lisa Wilcox as Alice. She was definitely a good person to give the lead role to, as she didn't show it any dishonor or cruelty. None of the other performances are really good or worth remembering. The rest of the cast just played their roles and fairly flatly.

SCORE: The score in this addition is creepier and more prevalent, led by lesser-known Craig Safan, who went on to score more movies. This nightmare also, like its predecessor, had a few original songs. However, they weren't as good or memorable as those in Nightmare 3.

EFFECTS: The special effects are pretty well done overall in this Freddy movie. The effects aren't the very best, but they definitely are quite remarkable. A gruesome roach transformation, a soul-sucking kiss, and even a peek inside of Freddy's collection of souls make this movie feel like an underrated special effects marvel. Though reeking of B-movie madness, the effects do their job well.

OTHER CONTENT: A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master is neither a dramatic fall or triumphant rise from its predecessor. In fact, you could say this one was made strictly to entertain without completely sucking it up. This idea is evident in adding more scenes with Krueger and speeding up the kill frequency. The movie does feel like it was made in a hurry, but it doesn't deter it from being any less entertaining. The blood flows freely and the audience is left to laugh at or uncomfortably watch Freddy's many antics and stylish kills. This one was purely made for entertainment and giving the general audience what they want: more Fred and more violence.

   A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master is truly an underrated B-movie as compared to the series; it's actually entertaining but nothing to take seriously in any way, form, or fashion. The performances and plot (or lack thereof) failed, but the entertaining antics of Krueger and his stylized torture is enough to numb a horror fan's mind and entertain the masses.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) review


   Indeed an improvement from its predecessor but not topping the first, A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors revives the franchise from the death it was previously put in. Improved performances, cooler special effects, and an even balance between hilarity and terror earn this addition respect within the franchise.

PLOT: Once again on Elm Street, infamous nightmare serial killer, Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), is terrorizing the teens that reside in the area. He tricks young, misunderstood teen, Kristen Parker (Patricia Arquette) into slitting her wrists resulting in her admission to the local youth  mental hospital. Within the institution, she meets several problematic teens with the same common problem as her: Freddy Krueger coming to kill in their dreams. The problem has hopes to be remedied, though, when older Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) becomes the secretary at the hospital and ways to help remedy the teens worries with their nightmares. However, Freddy seems to be getting more and more powerful as he takes the lives from the last of these Elm Street children. He gets harder to beat, and harder to try and conquer as the chief staff in the hospital disagree with Nancy and allied Dr. Neil Gordon's (Craig Wasson) methods in helping the tormented teenagers. The plot is very interesting and well executed. Putting Krueger in a mental hospital with a bunch of teenagers is similar to letting a hungry Rottweiler in a house full of cats. It's brutal and entertaining to watch, but expected. The many twists and turns of this plot, also, are very effective and very well done. The story is very much alive in this Nightmare.

ACTING: The performances in this Freddy film are very much improved than in its predecessor. Veteran actors Robert Englund and Heather Langenkamp reprise their roles as Freddy Krueger and Nancy Thompson with a certain chemistry. The two characters approach as age-old enemies though we feel these two have been each others age-old foil, for they both possess similar qualities but are very much the opposite. Langenkamp has even improved from the last one, establishing a character outside of the intense segments. The rest of the performances are excellently done, especially those of Patrica Arquette as Kristen, Ken Sagoes as haunted teen Kincaid, Jennifer Rubin as former junkie Taryn, Bradley Gregg as sleepwalking Phillip, Ira Heiden as paraplegic Will, Laurence Fishburne as orderly Max, and special appearances by John Saxon as Mr. Thompson and Zsa Zsa Gabor as herself. The cast here, though some are young, are very well played. Everyone plays their respective parts as though they had been that character their whole life.

SCORE: The score is very well done and as familiar as the first Freddy score. This soundtrack is different, however, with the addition of two songs ("Into the Fire", "Dream Warriors") by hair metal band Dokken. "Dream Warriors" lives to be a memorable track still, especially around this season.

EFFECTS: The special effects in this one are miles better than its predecessor. The effects are still used for a cheesy type of appeal, but this time they don't look as cheap or crudely made. From the Freddy-snake to Philip's puppet walk to each individual characters death scene (for those who do die), the effects are noticeably better but still used to get a kind of cheesy, B-movie effect.

OTHER CONTENT: The third Nightmare is miles better than its attempt at a predecessor. The story is thicker, along with the performances, and the balance of funny and scary is yet again in place. However, this one just feels funnier than the first, as the kills get increasingly more specific and ridiculous. However, this is not bad. We find ourselves laughing at Freddy, as if he were a clown performing for our entertainment. It is in this Nightmare movie where Freddy starts to feel like less of a serial killer and more of a stylish murderer. Freddy entertains and thrills, inspiring a few devious chuckles from the horror-loving audience it intends to please. Nightmare 3 is definitely a true horror at heart, however. Though Freddy comes out as funny, he still thrills us in this film, as we still think inside of how gruesome each way would be to die.

   Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors is definitely the revival of a long-lost franchise. Everything has improved tremendously, from the cast's performance to the special effects. The balance of scare and fun factor is successfully brought back, showing its fun face more often than it ever has. Freddy Krueger is an entertainer for his devoted audience, but a tremor for all of those who take his kills seriously. With a more developed story as well, this flick rises to an enjoyable Freddy feast.  

Friday, October 2, 2015

A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985) review


   Compared to its legendary predecessor, the first sequel to Wes Craven's memorable franchise is quite terrible. Everything is a major fall from the first film. Most of the performances are very hollow and inexperienced, the mechanics of the movie are very ridiculous, and instead of scares, we have unintentional laughs. In comparison to the first, A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge falls into so-bad-it's-good territory, and is in no way a worthy addition to Craven's horror canon.

PLOT: After his family moves into the old house on Elm Street, young and awkward Jesse Walsh (Mark Patton) starts to have terrifying dreams of former serial killer, Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund). Even more terrifying than that is the fact that Freddy wants to recruit Jesse as a type of apprentice. Though Jesse doesn't want anything to do with it, he finds out over time that he can't control his decision to kill, for Freddy's begun to control him. With only the support of his best friend, Ron Grady (Robert Russler) and his girlfriend, Lisa Webber (Kim Myers), Jesse must fight his urge to kill and get rid of Freddy for good. The plot sounds like a good idea, but ends up just being preposterous. There's no boundaries between dreams and real life in this Krueger movie; Freddy attacks and effects the scenery almost everywhere, not limiting to dreams anymore. This throws off the whole concept of the movie and pretty much ruins the movie and makes it confusing. The plot is overly ridiculous and preposterously executed.

ACTING: The performances were not so great in this Freddy "film". The only performance that showed a spark of effort was, of course, Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger. Englund stays true to the attitude of his character. No one else in this movie even showed a hint of experience. Mark Patton is almost completely unfitting for the part of Jesse and Kim Myers is actually as wooden as a tree. Had this cast had a bit of experience, this movie may have had a bit more potential.

SCORE: The score is really nothing special and fantastic in this one. It enhanced the few moments of unease, but it wasn't anything truly significant.

EFFECTS: The effects in this Nightmare movie are hit and miss with most being misses. The strange part is that the effects in the movie seemed to slowly deteriorate from decent to terrible and cheap. The blood is still true, but the means of killing and the more grotesque scenes are just plain cheap. It feels like they squandered every dollar they had on everything else, unsuccessfully, and settled for cheap props and visual effects.

OTHER CONTENT: The only good things about this sad attempt at accompanying a classic are the hilarious one-liners and the unintentional humor. This movie is funny in places it shouldn't be. It takes itself too seriously for what it really is, which is a simple attempt at milking a franchise too early. However, the actually funny one-liners help save the movie from sinking into complete stupidity. In every other aspect, however, this movie fails. Had Craven been in the director's chair this round, Nightmare 2: Freddy's Revenge would have been an excellent addition to the franchise.

   Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge falls far from the original classic its concept came from. Except for Englund, none of the performances were worth anybody's time. The special effects aren't so special and the main idea is shattered in a preposterous change in plot mechanics. This whole movie is a horror experiment gone wrong. As a matter of fact, I'd call it the true "nightmare" after falling so far from the classic predecessor's quailty.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) review


   The film that launched both Wes Craven's career and a major horror franchise is definitely no nightmare. A Nightmare On Elm Street remains to be one of the most classic horror films today, containing probably the most memorable horror film villain, an excellent cast, a distinct plot, and an entertaining mix of creepy imagery and cheesy kills. It feels much like going through a haunted fun-house, causing you to scream in terrifying enjoyment.

PLOT: Things start getting strange on Elm Street when the local teenagers start dreaming about a man named Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), a burnt serial killer with knives on his hands who seems to be killing them in their sleep. One concerned teen in particular, Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp), starts to notice and spread the word as quick as she can, to the disbelief of her parents but the undying support of her boyfriend, Glen Lantz (Johnny Depp) and framed "killer", Nick Corri (Jsu Garcia). Things start to get weirder as Nancy delves deeper into the mystery and finds out Freddy was a real local serial killer who used to murder children but was burnt to death in a not-so-accidental fire. Now, he's come back in teen's dreams to torture and kill once again in his humorous way. The plot was very unique and distinct for its time. The plot finds strength in its impressive storytelling and proper use of suspense, prompting just the right time for a jump scare, every time.

ACTING: The performances in this film are pretty excellent for a horror film of its kind. Heather Langenkamp seemed shaky at some points as the tormented Nancy, but during the most critical times of fear and intensity, she owned the role like no one else would ever be able to. Robert Englund established the part of serial killer, Freddy Krueger, almost as infamously as Krueger's crimes in Elm Street. The rest of the cast played their roles very well, including the career-launching performance from Johnny Depp as Nancy's love interest/best guy friend, Glen. The cast may not be perfect (excluding Englund), but I couldn't picture it any other way.

SCORE: Charles Bernstein creates a truly chilling yet simple theme for Krueger's character and many entrances, while adding plenty of emotion and paranoia to each moment of suspense leading up to the jumps. The score isn't as memorable as that of such horror gems like Halloween and The Exorcist, but it's still nevertheless chilling.

EFFECTS: The special effects in this film are pretty awesome and well done. The gruesome outcomes of Krueger's kills are created in such a way that it seems almost believable and not an obvious trick of technology, as these modern horror flicks seem to embrace. The blood is real and flows as true and plentiful as the Mississippi River, the make-up effects of Krueger seem authentic and very well done, and the many little scares along the way are enhanced by each effect used.

OTHER CONTENT: This horror film is one of the most memorable and even a classic in horror film history. However, don't take it too seriously. Nightmare is very authentically creepy and shocking in parts, but the many strange perks to Krueger's scares and methods almost seem darkly comical. The cheesiest of scares seems like a fun laugh, as of that in a haunted house attraction. This film is a very memorable and creepy one, but it's also a lot of fun for true horror fans everywhere. It doesn't create a very serious mood, like that of the two classics I've mentioned before, but it's definitely a more fun classic in the true horror canon.

  Wes Craven truly did strike gold with creating A Nightmare On Elm Street, establishing a horror franchise more memorable or infamous than any other you could name, including Friday the 13th or Halloween. An excellent cast, unique plot, very real-looking effects, fun-yet-creepy scares, and a truly memorable horror villain all lead this film's way into the hearts, memories, and of course, dreams, of horror fans all over.