Willow Creek (2013)

 

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  • Writer: Bobcat Goldthwait
  • Director: Bobcat Goldthwait
  • Starring: Bryce Johnson, Alexie Gilmore

 

Synopsis

Jim (Bryce Johnson) takes his girlfriend (Alexie Gilmore) to Willow Creek to make a film about Big Foot, hoping to either find proof of its existence or trace a previous expedition to see what they find. Once they get into the woods and the sun goes down, things start getting a bit strange.

Review

Instead of a group of 3 asking local folks about the Blair Witch and then heading into the woods, you have a couple asking local folks about Big Foot and then heading into the woods. In both cases, it gets tense once the sun goes down.

Being the Bobcat fan that I am, I was really hoping this would bring something a bit different. The film itself was good. The characters were likable enough. The dialog would revert to discussions about Jim believing in Big Foot and his girlfriend, Kelly, not believing in it. Seems like they were trying to create some sort of drama or tension with the talk, but it seemed a little redundant. Then again, in real-life, we often have the same conversations over and over. Still, there is a scene with a marriage proposal that is not accepted. Seems like that could have been the tense conversation that gets brought up throughout the film.

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The terrified couple

The unfortunate part of this movie is the existence of The Blair Witch Project. So much seems like a re-telling of that film. Again, they do it well. But, Blair Witch did it better. Although the ending is kind of a similar quick ending, there is a scene that gives you more of a clear as to what is happening. It’s such a quick glimpse that I felt it was pretty satisfying. Also, there were a couple times I actually jumped, so it did its job there. Unlike Blair Witch, which I’ve seen a couple times and want to re-visit again, I don’t think I’d take another trip to Willow Creek.

Rating 5 Sasquatches out of 10 | Would love to see a more original horror film from Bobcat Goldthwait someday

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976-EVIL (1988)

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  • Writers: Brian Helgeland and Rhet Topham
  • Director: Robert Englund
  • Starring: Stephen Geoffreys, Patrick O’Brien, Jim Metzler
  • Medium: STARZ

 

Synopsis

A kid (Stephen Geoffreys, Fright Night) has an overbearing mother, a tough-guy cousin who looks out for him, and a group of bullies, who make his life a living hell. He comes across a phone number (976-EVIL, of course). The messages on the phone line directs him into a different direction, where he is suddenly the one in charge. The only problem: he may not be the one in charge of his soul and body anymore. Meanwhile, a reporter, who looks into strange religious phenomena, is trying to figure out what is behind the evil phone number.

Review

As far as how well the movie has aged, I’m a little torn on that. I expected it to look a lot worse than it did. That aside, back when the movie was made, these pay phone numbers were all the rage, whether you were calling psychics, handicappers, or whatever. You paid a lot of money per minute. This may be lost on the kids now because 976 numbers have disappeared (at least, I’m not aware of it still existing). You see all the payphones. When is the last time you saw one of those on the street?

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The very 80s electronic effect

The special effects are surprisingly good, except for the electricity coming out of the telephone, which looked like an older movie. Even then, it wasn’t that bad. The bad guy characters are all stereotypical tough guys from the 80s, guys you just wouldn’t think of as tough if you saw them walking down the street. Strangely, they seem to be the only ones that live in the area. There is a low population of people seen during the film, even in the scenes shot at the school, where everyone seems to somehow be alone. It was fun watching “tough guy” Darren E. Burrows (Ed, TV’s Northern Exposure) playing such a different character.

The film itself is darkly lit and a bit gritty. One of the ongoing horror questions: is it scarier to show, show, show OR is it scarier to intimate at something and let the audience fill in the missing visuals? This movie plays on the second half of the question with the camera shifting from the victims when they are about to get theirs. It works. It allows for the makeup effects to take center stage instead of failing on the explicitness.

There was something about the over-the-top characters that worked for me this time around. I know I had (maybe still do) the VHS when I was growing up and didn’t watch the movie that often. Again, I was expecting to laugh through it, but it was better than I expected. Stephen Geoffreys is likable as the loser who just wants to be cool like his cousin. Sandy Dennis plays the overly religious mother, who acts as a bully in her own right to her son. She definitely plays it up to the camera, but I enjoyed the character nonetheless. Jim Metzler plays the reporter, and he is low key and does a good job. Looking at it without high expectations and from the perspective of a direct-to-video release (instead of the theatrical release it actually got), it really was quite enjoyable. It may have helped that I watched it on my phone. Maybe a bigger screen would have revealed more of the flaws.

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If you find this ad, just throw it away

One of the strange things, I thought, occurs after Hoax turns demonic and comes into the movie house where quite a few of the scenes take place. He has sunglasses on, his hair has a longer strand hanging in front of his face, and he is in shadow. In that scene, he looks like a later-day Michael Jackson. I don’t know what that means, but it was an interesting observation.

Rating: 6 rings out of 10 | Patrick O’Brien, who play cool cousin Spike, reprises his role in the sequel. I haven’t seen it, but I’m half-tempted to do so now.

Monster Squad (1987)

monstersquad_poster

  • Writers: Shane Black and Fred Dekker
  • Director: Fred Dekker
  • Starring: Andre Gower, Stephen Macht, Duncan Regehr
  • Medium: DVD

Synopsis

Dracula is back from the dead and enlists the help of Frankenstein’s Monster, the Wolfman, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and the Mummy to try to rule the world. Unfortunately, the town they are in also has a group of “loser” kids, who are really into monsters. They find out what is going on and try to open a vortex to send the monsters back to Limbo before Dracula can take over the world.

Review

It’s interesting to see the difference between what would fly now versus what was “common place” that you wouldn’t think much of in 1987. For instance, in the beginning of the film, the Fat Kid (“My name is Horace.”) is being taunted by some bullies, being called “faggot” a couple times. I may be wrong, but it didn’t seem like something that would be in a movie today. We are more sensitive these days, and it just reminded me how freely the insult was thrown around back in the day. Sad.

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My Name is Horace

Also, I imagine the monsters would be handled a bit differently today than they were in the time of this film. The actors portraying the monsters did an excellent job of playing the monsters true to form. This film was partly a comedy, and I imagine if someone had the idea for the film today, the monsters would all be bumbling idiots, with maybe Dracula being the exception or just an inept leader – maybe not so bumbling. N0 – Frankenstein’s Monster is very much how I’d think the monster should be portrayed based on Mary Shelley’s book. Dracula is not toned down for the kids. He is a vicious leader. The Wolf Man is in agony, as the human does not enjoy his curse when the moon turns full. The Creature and the Mummy do not have lines and are there just for the attack.

I could see where this film could be difficult to digest. Is it a harmless kids adventure? Is it a more serious monster movie? I expected more of a Goonies-esque adventure with monsters, but, although the villains in The Goonies are adult and mean, they were still a bit bumbling. When Dracula picks up a 5-year-old girl and calls her a bitch, there is no humor there or Dracula falling all over himself.

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The Monsters

You have the 80s styles. You have the 80s synth music. Some of it doesn’t hold up so well. But, when you are fan of this style and music, then it can just bring a smile to your face. Luckily, for me, I am a fan. It’s also a film that can pull at the heart a little bit, especially where Frankenstein’s Monster is involved. You get the lesson of not judging a book by its cover with the Scary German Guy. You have the typical 80s storyline of “losers” being heroes.

One thing I’d say is a pleasant re-discovery that kids were not always played down to. It’s a good reminder that we weren’t always so PC, afraid of offending everyone, and could be “mean” around kids, not always needing to protect them from everything. I do miss the days when we weren’t so overprotective of everything.

Rating:  7 Monsters out of 10 | So happy my wife would always watch this when she was younger, and she was able to share it with me and the kids.

Introduction

When I was younger, I remember being a fan of horror…..I think. The only actual films I remember watching repeatedly was Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and Rock n’ Roll High School. For some reason, I remember watching The Howling with my dad and him being called into work. I had the option of staying home and watching the movie or going into work with my dad. I chose to go into the refinery. I also remember watching The Shining from behind a book. I do remember being obsessed with this one advertisement that was playing on The Movie Channel. I’d always stop what I was doing to watch it. Later in life, I was watching Suspiria and realized that the advertisement I was obsessed with as a kid was for this film.

suspiria-ad

One day, I know my immediate family, grandparents, and aunt were all in my family room watching Friday the 13th. The movie scared the shit out of me. If it was dark near the bottom of the stairs, I would run to the stairs for safety. I thought that a killer would jump out of any dark corner.I’m guessing this experience may have been in 1982 sometime because, after the movie, we went out for dinner, and I saw Friday the 13th, Part 3 advertised at the drive-in we passed on the way to the restaurant.

So – I wanted nothing to do with horror from that time forward. In 1987, my friend was obsessed with Fangoria magazine, his favorite film being A Nightmare on Elm Street. We all decided to sneak into A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. Wanting to hang out with my friends, I agreed to go, even though I was a little worried about seeing a scary movie.

We had the day off school. I can’t remember what movie we bought tickets to, but we started down the hallway and found a couple (early 20s maybe), who agreed to let us walk in with them so that we wouldn’t get kicked out. It was my re-introduction to horror, to special effects, and this guy named Freddy Krueger. I was enthralled. I started watching everything I could get my hands on and quickly started collecting Fangoria, reading it from cover to cover.

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Now, 30 years have come and gone. I debated putting some quick reviews up on this site to get it going but decided on needing to re-watch all the movies to give a modern take. I don’t get out to the movie theatre much anymore, so most of the “new” film reviews will be those available immediately on demand OR not until they appear on one of the streaming services.

What to expect from the reviews? I don’t know. I’ve never studied film, so I don’t know if there will be any technical break-downs. Quite simply, I’ll try to do my best to explain why I liked, disliked, or felt indifferent towards a movie.

If you have any suggestions for films to review, feedback on the reviews provided, or your own thought on the reviewed films, please feel free to comment.