Stranger Things Season 2 finally dropped this Halloween and damn was it good! So much fun and such a total and complete trip down memory lane. The show plays off of the wonder filled nostalgia of the 80’s and almost perfectly captures the magic of movies like Poltergeist, E.T., The Goonies and The Lost Boys to name a few.
This show couldn’t possibly get any better at delivering the ever so sweet 1980’s cinematic magic could it? Well I say it could do the job way better, after watching the second season it was apparent once again that this show could really up it’s game by ditching a lot of the shoddy CGI effects it uses for it’s monsters.
The show sure looks and feels like an 80’s Amblin flick, that is until they introduce us to the other worldly monsters. Then it quickly becomes very apparent it’s 2017 and that some questionable CG has entered my 80’s fantasy! So for season 3 of the show, I think they could do better, to really recreate that magic of old, it’s time for the show to incorporate practical creature effects! Puppetry, makeup, animatronics!
Imagine the creatures on the show if they had the feel of E.T., The Gremlins or Pumpkinhead?! The CG takes me out of the moment, the realism fades quickly and I imagine how much more effective the experience would really be if it just gave this tweak to say 75% of it’s fx work. That alone would give us the ultimate nostalgia trip, let’s face it, fans would go nuts for this and especially those who are real fans of the genre the show’s replicating. So help me spread this idea #strangerthings80sfx & Let’s demand that 80’s special effects magic be utilized for the next season!!! They’ve come a long way with practical fx work and blending with CG or using CG to eliminate wires & puppeteers would take the show to a whole next level of 1980’s love….
Last night I had the pleasure of seeing a fantastic lost haunted house 80’s gem from Japan called ‘Sweet Home’! I only heard great things about this one recently online while looking for obscure horror movies and just had to check it out for myself. It was never released here in the USA but luckily there’s a great site called Twisted Anger that has some excellent lost cinema you can purchase if you’re not thrilled about watching movies on Youtube (it however is indeed on Youtube).
Sweet Home has some real sweet things going for it, right from the start of the movie it’s clear some love went into the production of this one. It’s beautifully shot and filled with some stunning locations and sets peices. Writer & director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, who’s probably most well known for his 2001 horror film ‘Pulse’ does a great job here letting his spooky tale unfold on screen with tons of color and a great score to accompany it as well. We follow a TV production crew who’re making a documentary about the legendary, now deceased painter, Mamiya Ichiro. They trek out into the foggy countryside to his creepy abandoned mansion and begin exploring, discovering his strange paintings about the house. Soon they begin filming & are confronted by a deadly presence that intends to possess and destroy all who remain inside.
It’s a simplistic story that takes some nice twists and turns along the way and is filled with some colorful characters as well as some nice comedic moments thrown in for good measure. The real star of the show however is clearly the movies excellent special fx work from American master of trade Dick Smith. Smith’s got an impressive resume too as he’s well known for his work on movies like The Exorcist, Poltergeist 2, Scanners, Altered States, Taxi Driver, to name a few. The movie starts off with a quiet tone however when weird shit begins to go down Smith’s stunning fx work really pushes the movie into new territory and is a true glory to behold. The quiet little ghost story by the finale explodes into an action packed visual feast with one of the best onscreen ghostly monsters of the 1980’s. Creepy babies, melting men, monsters & with tons of that 80’s electricity I adore so much, it really contains some “why the fuck have I never seen this before” moments that if you’re a fan of that classic decade of horror you’ll truly appreciate and likely never forget.
From what I’ve read about this movie, it’s been said the director wasn’t happy with this or really most of his 80’s work. Like ‘Poltergeist’ where it’s rumored Steven Speilberg was actually the one on set with the megaphone rather than Tobe Hooper, Sweet Home’s producer was also rumored to be quite an imposing force to director Kurosawa’s final vision. Still the movie manages to be one helluva good time despite any behind the scenes squabbling and is must see for any fans of ghostly 80’s horror done right. The movie also spawned a rather hard to find Nintendo NES Capcom video game as well as being the main inspiration of ‘Resident Evil’. I recommend seeking this odd little lost treasure of flick out this halloween, the fx alone are worth the price of admission!
“Stranger Things” is the series to binge on this summer, I absolutely loved it. Secondly it’s very obvious that The Duffer Brothers are fans of The Goonies, E.T., Poltergeist, Gremlins, Close Encounters and fully succeeded in replicating the nostalgic vibe of those movies for the Netflix series this summer. They gave us that special feeling we’ve all missed for so many years, especially if you grew up in those times. People are already clamoring for a second season, so what are we all supposed to do in the meantime? Well I’ve put together a list of some movies that I think likely were an inspiration to the hit series that you might have totally missed out or haven’t seen in a while!
Most of these flicks follow the “Amblin” formula. Amblin cranked out a lot of the spooky 80’s Speilberg style movies. It was a formula that seemed to put kids on dangerous adventures, most often supernatural ones, usually in small towns or the suburbs and most often trying to prove to their parents some crazy story to be true with often times unlucky results. These stories were filled with wonder and most of all they were so undeniably fun to watch that to see a series like Stranger Things in this day and age is a breath of fresh air. So here today in response I’d like to honor 10 of the lesser known movies you’ve gotta hunt down if you dug Stranger Things as much as I did.
1. The Gate (1986) To say they weren’t influenced by this movie when making Stranger Things would be a crime!!
Well it looks as if Netflix has done it again with the totally awesome new ‘Stranger Things’ series! I’ve gotta say thus far being on episode six it’s easily one of my favorite shows ever. I’m hoping these last three episodes will totally deliver the goods. A lot of new movies have tried to replicate the classic 80’s adventure, movies like Super 8 & even the X-men: Apocalypse. None of these movies have really been able to fully channel the vibes of what it was like to be a kid back then but then comes along this series and they NAIL it. It’s thus far the perfect blend of movies like E.T., Firestarter, Poltergeist & The Goonies all wrapped up neatly in a box. Everything down to the wardrobe, the music and the sheer adventure captures that old Amblin/Speilberg vibe perfectly. It’s not a carbon copy tho they’re also bringing the scares in a big way.
Also awesome is to have Winona Ryder back front and center, she of course is a big 80’s crush of mine (duh right?) AND Matthew Modine too, so that definitely adds to the 80’s authenticity of the show. I’m curious what Netflix’s plan is for the series? Is it a one off or are they looking at more seasons? I guess I need to finish it and see where it’s left off. Here’s what The series creators and directors The Duffer Brothers had to say at this time about a possible second season:
“We wanted to do a couple things with this [first] season. We didn’t want to do The Killing thing. We wanted it to resolve that main thing of Will going missing in the first season. So in that sense, it is like an eight-hour movie. Now, we don’t answer all the questions by the end of the season — there are definitely some dangling threads. The hope is that it feels satisfying but that we left room and that if people respond to it we can go back into this world. But if we do get to go back, it’s not a second season as much as a sequel.”
A sequel season sounds great to me, perhaps they could find a few other 80’s icons to flesh it out? Hmmm..Molly Ringwald or Ralph Macchio anyone?! The possibilities are pretty amazing if you think about it. Continue reading
I love digging up these old VHS boxes as so many of them feature iconic artwork that’s never left my mind from way back in the days of the video store experience of the 80’s. So today I’m featuring a pretty unknown jem of a movie from 1985 by Independence Day director Roland Emmerich.
This one is a great movie, a total 80’s Amblin, Speilberg rip off but a ton of fun. It borrows heavily from movies like E.T., Poltergeist and Close Encounters. It was also known as ‘Joey’ and features a villainous ventriloquist doll so yeah there’s that too! Anyway I’ve always totally dug the cover art from when I was a kid and it totally represents the movie as well. You know most more obscure 80’s flicks feature some totally wicked cover art but then the movie just doesn’t deliver one tenth of that awesomeness. Making Contact has a great cover and is actually a pretty cool little flick too!
This cool ass box art was done by Barry E. Jackson, if you want the full scoop on him and some of the other totally epic cover check out this link from one of my favorite blogs Camera Viscera!!
I’m quite excited about this cool new Netflix original series coming out July 15th! ‘Stranger Things’ has all of the vibes of those amazing Amblin style adventures that I grew up with as a kid. Judging from the trailer we’re getting a bit of an E.T., Poltergeist, Close Encounters and even a bit of a Goonies feel to this series.
The kind of movies where the heroes were kids in danger, the adults just wouldn’t believe a word they’d say, kids would cruise around unsupervised on BMX bikes trying to solve crazy mysteries. There’s something special about those movies that many directors over the recent years have tried to capture in movies like JJ Abram’s ‘Super 8’, Krampus and recently ‘The Midnight Special’. Add one of my biggest 80’s crushes, Winona Ryder to the mix and it so far looks like a surefire hit.
I just heard about this today as it kinda just came out of nowhere it seems but it’s one series I’ll be checking out the day it drops see the trailer for yourself and lets cross our fingers that this one captures the mystery of those old Stephen King classics!
We’ve got a ton of movies these days that are trying to be a throwback to the vintage horror classics of the 70’s & 80’s but only a select few of them succeed on the level they attempt. ‘We Are Still Here’ not only succeeds it actually made me forget I was watching a movie released in 2015. What we’ve got here is on helluva ghost story with it’s lead being Scream Queen Barbara Crampton of Re-Animator, From Beyond, Chopping Mall fame which further legitimizes this flick’s already convincing retro time period.
It’s the 1970’s, after the death of their son Bobby in a car accident, Anne (Crampton) and her husband Paul (Andrew Sensenig) have decided to relocate to a new home way out in the boonies of New England. There they hope to find some peace in the midst of their mourning. Paul hopes this move will help his wife snap out the heavy depression she’s recently been dealing with and perhaps will help her begin to move on. No such luck, upon their arrival Anne is convinced her son’s ghost has now manifested in their new home.
As the ghostly events become more intense she decides to ask for help from her close friend May (Lisa Marie), a supposed psychic, and her pot smokin’ free spirit husband Jacob (Larry Fessenden) to try and make contact with Bobby. Shit gets even more freaky, as the weird townsfolk begin revealing the house they’ve moved into’s dark past that’s somehow legendary among them.
It’s a simple premise and just when you think you’re gonna get your average ghost about the house flick you’re knee deep in serious gore. That’s an interesting aspect of this movie, these ghosts will fuck you up big time if you’re nosing around where you’re not wanted. Director Ted Geohegan brings the splatter galore in this grisly tale and does it all old school style via some impressive practical effects.
The Ghosts too are pretty cool looking and the movies got a neat little mystery going on as well. It’s a short sweet little haunting movie that stands in a category all it’s own. You won’t want to miss the final conflict either as things get all ‘Evil Dead II’ pretty quick! Also this appears to be Ted’s first time directing and it’s a great debut. Cool to see he was born right here in Oregon a few miles from where I live! Check this flick out on Amazon, Itunes, Google play etc etc. It’s pretty awesome!
The Insidious franchise is one I’ve been quite intrigued with for quite some time. I really enjoyed the concept of the first movie as it was one of the first horror flicks I’d seen which at it’s core used the OBE (out of body experience) or as many know it Astral Projection as the main plot device. A truly original basis for a “ghost story” and a topic in which the first had gotten me quite interested in researching. It was a breath of fresh air in Hollywood horror, a lean and ultra frightening movie that literally had me cringing in my movie seat. Add in the appearance of Lin Shaye (who’s been in countless movies from my childhood) in a similar role as the kind of Zelda Rubinstein character in Poltergeist for that little bit of nostalgia factor and you have a super fun fright film. However the second chapter didn’t impress, it was bland and a bit boring much like most big Hollywood horror sequels trying to quickly cash in on the success of the first film.
So I had quite low expectations for Insidious 3 and I’ve gotta say it actually turned out to be quite a good time! It’s simple story is about a young girl being terrorized by a weird ass ghost who wears a respirator on his face and leaves behind gross tar like footprints wherever he appears. This one’s focused a lot as well on Lin Shaye’s character and how she joined forces with the two younger paranormal investigators from the first flick.
The movie itself actually has some impressive acting as well when usual the third flick in a franchise can bring a cast of stale actors together for a mega bland script. This chapter also has a ton of scares around every corner. None of these are the kind where loud music blares and it’s nothing scary at all, like a cat jumping out of shelf or something. Nope every scare is actually something pretty gosh dang frightening. The only thing missing was exactly who and what the films creepy villain really was? I guess not everything can be explained right? This one also delves deeper into “The Further” the astral dimension where Shaye’s character really shines, it’s a pretty cool sight to see this old woman battling demon’s there with her dreamlike powers manifesting while she quietly sits in a chair in a deep trance in the “real” world.
Well plain and simple they succeeded in a pretty sweet little third entry in the franchise, it’s already got me excited to re-watch the original again. Check this one out if you’re looking for a nice creepy little movie that gets your hear a racing then this one is certain to do the trick!
Housebound has got to be one of my favorite movies of 2014, easily one of the best “horror” comedies I’ve seen in quite some time! This splendid little flick from New Zealand is filled with a ton of mystery, some great scares, creepy cool atmosphere and a lot of laughs. This one kinda plays out like a twisted Scooby Doo adventure. It’s a simple premise here, our troubled heroine Kylie gets caught trying to rob an ATM and is soon sentenced to home detention back to the house she grew up with her mother. And what a large creepy house it is!
It doesn’t take long before things get weird as Kylie one evening insists on using the phone, while her chatty mother tells her she’s taking an important phone call. Leading to one of my favorite moments in the movie, as Kylie heads of flustered into her bedroom she turns on the radio to a station that’s got a “Coast to Coast” style paranormal program in progress. She notices they’re taking a live phone call from a woman who sounds oddly just like her mother, claiming that the house she lives in is haunted.
From here the story gets incredibly interesting taking twists and turns galore and to give away anymore of the plot would be a crime! Housebound is a nonstop thrill ride and will have you guessing right up to the very end. It’s a crazy little adventure, with real heart at it’s core. That’s not to say it’s devoid of scares or even gore, this one has it all tightly wrapped into one helluva humorous yet creepy package. The house where much of it takes place is pretty awesome as well, filled with more than enough odd rooms, long hallways, creaking doors and mysterious closets and cabinets! It’s also got a great sequence with a Teddy Ruxpin type talking bear that’s pretty damn incredible as well as the most genius use of a cheese grater you’re likely to ever see. So I highly recommend checking this one out if you’re looking for a great Saturday night popcorn flick! A ton of fun & one of the best flicks I’ve seen all year…
I’ve been out doing a ton of cool summer stuff lately and decided to take a break from the blogging for a couple weeks, kind of summer break. It’s tough to find cool shit to write about everyday that’s not just regurgitating stories from Ain’t it Cool or Bleeding Cool and sometimes I feel like adding even more hype to huge Hollywood blockbusters is an uninteresting, uninspired waste of time. I mean what’s Hollywood done for me lately?! So I was waiting until something cool that’s a little more under the radar got me pumped to do a blog again. Well it came in the form of bad ass little flick called “Under the Bed”!
This cool little monster movie is brought to you by director Steven C. Miller who brought us Automaton Transfusion, The excellent Aggression Scale and more recently the Silent Night, Deadly Night remake. I honestly have been looking forward to Under the Bed for a while now and thankfully it delivered the goods. The movie is described as a ‘suburban nightmare’ which rings true, however I see it as a more Dante-esque style “kids in danger” monster movie. It’s basically a tale of two brothers who go to battle with a vicious creature who lives under their bed.
Older brother Neil, comes back to live with his father, his new wife and his younger brother Paulie. After a two year leave of absence trying to deal with the death of his mother and his previous battle with the monster he returns to his small hometown where everyone thinks he’s bat shit crazy and his father is on the verge of a mental breakdown himself. He soon learns that his younger brother Paulie has also been terrorized by the same evil force for the last two years.
The movie takes it’s time to get to the real action, but the movie doesn’t lose steam at any point. It’s well shot, well acted and pretty dang creepy. Once the boys decide to make their stand the movie changes direction drastically and the films third and final act suddenly delivers a heavy dose of unexpected gore-which was a welcome surprise! The monster also looks great and the film is pretty much devoid of CG which gives it a much more organic old school feel which I personally love.
Once the creature appears the film jumps into hyper drive, without giving away too much it seems to have hatched from films like Poltergeist, The Gate & Insidious while still bringing something fresh and new to the suburban horror genre. I will definitely be looking for this on dvd when it’s released and I’m quite sure it will be one of my fave horror films of 2013. Right now you can see it VOD, so if you’re tired of the usual overblown, glittery, hype stuff summer blockbusters maybe it’s time to get back to the basics with a good old fashioned creature feature….