Sunday, October 14, 2012

Capsule Movie Reviews: Prince of Darkness, Frankenweenie, From a Whisper to a Scream, Equinox

Sometimes there are movies I want to write about, but it just doesn't feel like I have enough in me to create a "full post." For those moments, I give you...capsule movie reviews. (I actually really love shorter movie reviews, personally. They give you enough to help you determine whether or not you want to watch the movie, but they're usually too brief to give away major plot points.)

Prince of Darkness: This is a John Carpenter movie from the 80s that focuses on the Devil, which is such an 80s horror topic, right?! Satanic cults were a real thing back then. Anyhow, in Prince of Darkness it turns out that, concealed beneath an old church is an unspeakable evil, in the form of green goo that is vaguely reminiscent of You Can't Do That on Television, or the filling of a delicious, delicious Cadbury Screme Egg. Donald Pleasence plays a priest with haunted eyes who says terrifying things about how everyone is doomed. Alice Cooper plays a homeless guy who stabs someone to death with a fucking bicycle. It's on Netflix streaming - check it out! It's not a masterpiece, but it's enjoyable nonetheless.

Frankenweenie: Tim Burton (sorta) redeems himself to diehards who want to love him but can't pretend his most recent movies have been good with this supercute black-and-white 3D animated tale about a boy who resurrects his beloved dog, based on his live action short of the same name which you probably watched as an extra on the Nightmare Before Christmas DVD. It has lots of Burtonian atmosphere, a creepy/manic Danny Elfman score, nods to Universal monster movies and Vincent Price and even the voice of Winona Ryder as a Lydia Deetz-ish deadpan goth girl. If any of this sounds even remotely appealing to you, you'll dig this movie.

From a Whisper to a Scream: Another horror anthology currently available via Netflix streaming, this is an 80s movie starring an elderly Vincent Price about the evil that infects the (fictional) town of Oldfield, Tennessee. (Note: For some reason, I thought there would be a murderous scarecrow in this movie. I'm not sure why I thought this, but let me tell you there are no scarecrows whatsoever. You have been warned.) VP plays a classy/creepy old librarian whose serial killer niece has just been executed, and a mysterious lady comes to visit him to learn more about what drove her to murder. What follows is four ghoulish tales covering topics like murderous babies from beyond the grave, voodoo, necrophilia, carnival freakshows and the horrors of the Civil War (no, really!). This movie was kind of brutal, actually - anthologies tend to be a little on the kitschy side (think Tales from the Crypt) and this one had a number of gory moments that took me by surprise. And can I just say that I'm so fucking tired of watching women murdered in movies for rebuffing a man's sexual advances, as if that somehow lends sympathy to the murderer? (Note: This is why we need more women filmmakers, especially in the horror genre!) Apparently Vincent Price hated this movie. It's nothing I would recommend going out of your way to watch, but if you're an anthology fan with a couple of hours to kill, you could do worse. Like, for instance, you could wind up watching...

Equinox: This 1970 movie straddles the line between so bad it's funny and so bad you're kinda pissed that you spent valuable minutes of your life watching it. It's full of annoying characters who do inexplicably stupid things, and I can safely say that I was rooting for absolutely everybody's death. The special effects are abysmal, even for the time, and don't make a lot of sense within the context of the story. Like, why does one of the characters end up battling a large blue caveman? Hmm. It gets points for all of the cool cars and for showcasing L.A. hiking trails that I know for a fact I've been on, including the Bronson Caves in Hollywood. Points taken away for the hyper-annoying casual sexism and the utter idiocy of the plot.

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