RETURN OF HHMC, PART 3
Ghostbusters II tends to take a lot more flack than it really deserves. It may pale in comparison to the first one, but let’s face it – any sequel would. One valid criticism is that too much of it is a retread of the original; after triumphantly saving New York, we find our heroes have been put out of business, now relegated to hosting birthday parties and cheap cable TV shows. People still accuse them of being frauds, which is sort of inexplicable considering all the shit that went down. Furthermore, we find that Bill Murray and Sigourney Weaver’s characters did not end up together as we were made to think. Everyone’s on an uphill climb once again, as if writers Dan Aykroyd & Harold Ramis had no other ideas for continuing the story. Regardless, GB II is a lot of fun, so much so that I can’t see why some fans have chosen to ignore it. Take the sticks out of your asses, people. 3.5/5
- Slam one down every time poor Winston gets a line of dialogue.
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
I remember most horror fans greeting the news of a Dawn of the Dead remake the same way they would greet the news that they just contracted herpes, with “How the fuck could this have happened?!” being the main question. This was, if you recall, before the lion’s share of other major horror remakes surfaced; at the time, remaking stuff like Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street and of course Dawn of the Dead still seemed unthinkable. Furthermore, who is this Zack Snyder douche and why are they letting his unqualified ass ruin Dawn of the Dead? Fortunately, Snyder didn’t ruin it; he merely (along with screenwriter James Gunn) reinvented it, in a way that doesn’t piss on Romero’s original. Unfortunately for both Snyder and horror fans, it would A) end up being Snyder’s best effort to date (sorry, 300 fans) and B) end up being the exception to the rule that most horror remakes do in fact blow. If Romero’s original was like Alien (stay with me here), Snyder’s version would most certainly be Aliens – it’s louder and faster, and in some respects a completely different experience, but it still occupies the same universe. It’s as if they wrote the words “zombies” and “shopping mall” on the drawing board, then went their own way with it. Ving Rhames is appropriately bad-ass, and Jake Weber makes a convincingly insecure leader of sorts. But the show-stealer here is a pre-Modern Family Ty Burell , as a snarky sleazeball you love to hate. And really, let’s all give this flick credit for giving us the next best thing to actually seeing Jay Leno shot in the head. 4/5
- Down the hatch for every zombie headshot, then pour one out for our homie C.J.
I might be the first person to make this particular claim, but Halloween II is a lot like Ghostbusters II. They’re both obviously inferior sequels, that despite their flaws, are still heavily enjoyable for fans who didn’t choose to write them off. Although the original seemed to set up a sequel, that was the last thing on creators John Carpenter and Debra Hill’s minds. Michael Myers’ disappearance at the end was shocking (well, for the time anyway) and the following interior shots of the house were meant to imply that he could be anywhere. Yet in Halloween II he’s simply down the street, scaring old ladies and seemingly shaking off those six bullets he just took to the chest. It’s in this one where it’s revealed that Myers is actually Laurie Strode’s brother, something screenwriter Carpenter freely admits to being the product of drinking while writing. So there’s no longer any mystery to it when Myers follows Laurie to the hospital, systematically killing off the staff in order to get to her. It’s all a little ridiculous this time, but most of the sequels to come would end up making Halloween II retroactively look pretty damn good. Director Rick Rosenthal didn’t have the same knack for suspense that Carpenter did (though Carpenter is rumored to have directed some of it) and the more synth-heavy score is a step down, but the eerie hospital setting is used effectively, the finale is satisfactory, and as a little bonus, the title sequence is unexpectedly awesome. 3/5
- Have a drink whenever the hospital staff are bullshitting instead of doing their jobs.
Zodiac is much more of a police procedural than a horror movie, but apparently a lot of people expected it to be more of the latter. I didn’t know much about the real-life Zodiac killings before seeing this, but the good news is you don’t have to. It’s the kind of film that rewards patience; it’s two hours and forty minutes of much talk and little action, but as the case unravels and the body count and suspects begin to mount, it’ll get under your skin. It’s a meticulously crafted account of what happened, and it’s clear that director David Fincher has no interest in glazing over details for the sake of making things more “cinematic.” Of course, it’s not entirely balanced; the screenplay by James Vanderbilt was adapted from the book Zodiac, written by Robert Graysmith (and played here by Jake Gyllenhaal). After years of obsessing over the case, Graysmith was practically certain who the killer was, despite the lack of hard evidence to prove it. As such, the film seems to hammer home the notion that Arthur Leigh Allen was the Zodiac, even though Allen died in 1992, and the case remains frustratingly unsolved. 4/5
- Have a drink every time Robert Downey Jr.’s character does.
The Mother of Tears is Italian horror-meister Dario Argento’s belated conclusion to his “Three Mothers” trilogy, following Suspiria and Inferno. Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen the first two (they’re really only connected thematically), but I’ll give a dollar to anyone who can explain what the fuck is going on here. After an ancient urn is uncovered near a church cemetery, all hell breaks loose in Rome, courtesy of a witch and her demonic followers. People are attacked and raped in the streets, a woman is possessed and throws her baby off a bridge – you know, the usual. Caught in the middle of this is the director’s daughter Asia Argento, as an art student who discovers that her mother was a good witch who used to battle the bad ones. Meanwhile, I discover Asia is kind of a terrible actress and this movie is fucking bonkers. Anyhow, the main witch is killed in the most anti-climactic way, at which the credits roll and make good use of the dude from Cradle of Filth. This movie was actually kinda boring, despite having scenes where a woman is choked with her own intestines and a priest gets a butcher knife to the face. I realize in retrospect that that’s a pretty amazing feat. Also, three kids are murdered in this movie. Three! Dario, you sicko you. 2/5
- Have a good ol’ drink whenever you see some good ol’ gore.
Dreamcatcher was a novel written by Stephen King when he was recovering from being hit by a van in 1999. God knows what drugs he was on when he wrote it (longhand), but the novel is supposedly just as fucking retarded as the movie version, which is very fucking retarded. It’s about four childhood friends (what else?) from Maine (where else?) who one day rescue an autistic kid from a group of bullies, who in turn gives each of them minor telepathic abilities. Years later these four dysfunctional friends meet for their annual hunting trip, when – wouldn’t you know it – there’s an alien invasion taking place. Lest you’re still trying to take this movie seriously, the smaller alien creatures are referred to as “shit weasels,” and Morgan Freeman shows up, chewing all the scenery and sporting eyebrows that look primed for an epic battle with Tom Selleck’s mustache (see above). While I was on board with the idea of four lifelong friends fending off aliens, that never really happens, as two of them are wiped out pretty fucking quick, and the third gets possessed by the boss alien. Which leaves the most boring one to save the day, and he’s played by Thomas “Plain” Jane. This is the kind of movie that’s bad in a spectacular way. I can’t imagine anybody involved keeping a straight face once the cameras stopped rolling. Recommended if you’re in the mood for a first-rate (but occasionally entertaining) pile of steaming shit. 1.5/5
- Break out the hard stuff once Timothy Olyphant bites it, cause it’s all downhill from there.