Like, Boo! All you thalidomide babies! It's me, ol' fat and bones, Spooker Washington. I will once again be taking over this column for the entirety of October in honor of that most spook-filled of holidays: Halloween! We should have some pretty exciting things lined up in the coming weeks. Pumpkin Carving Contests. Mouse Funerals. Maybe we'll even snort some bone dust off an old garbage can lid. This week, I am looking at all the exciting horror movies that will be heading your way shortly. There's some really good stuff out there waiting (oh, so patiently) to melt your eyeballs. Not surprisingly, there's some really bad stuff, too. Heck, even Ol' Crotchbone refuses to sniff some of this junked-up mattress soiltry.
Let me adjust my ribs, snap on a couple of kneecaps, and then we'll get into it! Whoop-doo! First order of business: Grab a 40-ounce King Cobra (Snake 'ill bite ya!). Twist off the top. Pour in a Pina Colada wine cooler to the label. Mix. Now, you've got the requisite Spooker Washington Long Beach Cocktail. Drink up. Then, commence reading and enjoy:
Boos! And Whoop-doos!
12-Year-Old Vampires? Whoop-doo!
If there's one movie you can't miss this Halloween, it's the Swedish cult favorite Let the Right One In. This oddly enduring vampire romance has been tearing up the festival circuit as of late, and just about everyone that's seen it can't stop talking about its blood soaked ability to wreck your heart. The film follows a picked upon twelve year old boy that befriends the new next-door neighbor girl in his small, frozen hometown of Blackeberg, Stockholm. She turns out to be a bloodsucker that can crawl up hospital walls and stand barefoot in the snow. From the very first frame, you instinctively know you are watching something very special in the horror genre, and there has never been anything quite like it. Beautifully shot and well acted, this is handsdown the best thriller of the year. Some have even called it a masterpiece. Surprising that it comes from Tomas Alfredson, Sweden's answer to our own Todd Phillips. Alfredson made a number of hit comedies for his home country before pouring out this bucket of blood, and now he'll be forever remembered as a leading member of the coveted cinematic ghoul school. Here, he pretty much reinvents the entire vampire mythos. And in doing so, he single-handedly crushes any Twilight fueled anticipation you might have been harboring deep within your rotten soul. With its climactic showdown, Alfredson creates one of the greatest images ever seen in any horror film to date. Let the Right One in? It is THE movie of the fall Halloween season. Whoop-doo!
Boos! And Whoop-doos!
The Return of Jigsaw? Boo!
The biggest commercial release this October is, again for the fifth year in a row, Saw. And it desperately wants to dick slap the nation with its fifth incarnation. A lot of people are anxiously awaiting this upcoming installment of the (once very) popular torture franchise, but I'm not all that excited about it's jagged bones and quaint blood splatters. For all intents and purposes, Saw has become the CSI of theatrical horror flicks. Only, it's not as interesting as that TV drama or any of its many incarnations. There's only one episode per year, and by the time we get to that next heated installment, I've pretty much forgotten what came before it. Can anyone recall or tell me what the heck Saw IV was about? Seriously, why don't they turn this into a weekly series already? Like Friday the 13th and Freddy's Nightmares before it, you know that's where Saw is eventually headed. Yup, the small screen. The only good thing I can say about this squelched group of films is that they've progressively gotten better ever since that first fractured attempt at telling Jigsaw's sanguine fairytale. Darren Lynn Bousman took the reigns from James Wan, and actually improved on what Lionsgate was trying to do with this epic tale. Part V sees effects supervisor David Hackl stepping up to the directing plate this time out. Apparently the storyline is going to revolve around a character called Hoffman. Can anyone clue me into who that is again? Do I want to see Saw V? Not really. It gets a Boo!. I'll wait until it's shown as part of an all-day marathon on cable. Then, maybe, I'll know what the heck is going on.
Boos! And Whoop-doos!
Singing Transplants? Whoop-doo!
What I do want to check out is Repo! The Genetic Opera!, which looks far more interesting. And Entertaining. This completely original horror musical features the likes of Paris Hilton and Spy Kid Alexa Vega, and it smells like a hoot and a hotdog. Though it comes out a week after Halloween, you'll still have enough candy stuck to the bottom of your soggy pumpkin to enjoy this early November kicker. Helmed by the eternally squirrelly Darren Lynn Bousman, he decided to drop his directorial duties on the above mentioned Saw V to make this highly original, detailed, and textured piece of pop cruelty. The soundtrack rocks the awesomeness out of an opossum's ass end. Get it, study it, know it before walking into that theater. Drink some beer, and it should prove to be a carnival ride of the macabre. Faulty in its shakiness and construction, the film leaves a sense of pent up dread at every twist and turn. Repo! The Genetic Opera! gets a fairly favorable Whoop-doo!. As does Sony's big genre attempt to cash in this fall season with Quarantine. A remake of the Spanish horror film Rec, word of mouth on this rabies thriller has been pretty strong thus far. It was crafted by the well-endowed Dowdle brothers, and it beats their first effort, the highly anticipated The Poughkeepsie Tapes to the big screen. Both surely shots of cinematic madness were filmed in that pseudo-documentary style that made The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield such hot commodities on the spook house circuit. And the first person accountability should serve Quarantine quite well. I can't wait to wallow in its misery.
Boos! And Whoop-doos!
Suffering from Dementia? Whoop-doo!
Certainly the weirdest horror film to premiere this coming Halloween is Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut Synecdoche, New York. Its not your dad's average, everyday, thrill-a-thon, and probably won't be considered a member of the genre until those refusing to purport its effectiveness watch it three or four more times. The film's structuring owes a lot to Jacob's Ladder, another off-putting horror film that seemed to straddle the fence between human frailty and realistic war drama. Kaufman's original idea for Synecdoche, New York was to write a scary little horror movie for Spike Jones to direct. But when Spike dropped out due to his overwhelming duties on Where the Wild Things Are, Kaufman decided to take the work into his own hands. And it evolved from there. It's a quite bloodless affair that deals with mental illness and disease. If you're scared of going to the doctor, this particular character study will continue to disturb you well after end credits roll. It's the kind of cinematic experience that will make you itch, as it acts quickly to turn your insides yellow. Fuck, you will still smell moldy wallpaper days after coming out of the theater. Synecdoche, New York uses the realistic proclivities and failures of the human mind to create a sense of dread within your own sinking soul, and it gets a big Whoop-doo for being the most effective fictional skin crawler of this candy coated Holiday. On that same note, it's the very harrowing documentary Dear Zachary: A Letter to A Son About His Father that wins in the non-fictional realm. Do you want your blood to run cold. Do you want your stomach to drop at two hundred miles per hour. This visual open letter will rip your heart out and kill your consciousness an inch at a time. Half the horror comes from not knowing the entire story. You have to simply let it wash over you. It is set up like a video diary, as director Kurt Kuenne attempts to recreate a visual retro-specticle of his dearly departed friend's family life for the son that got left behind. At first glance, you have to wonder why this intimate portrait is being made public. It's almost like watching someone else's old dusty videotapes. But the pace and nature of its essence is presented at such a clipped speed, you're refused the ability to turn away. Then it hits its first real dramatic beat, and you are locked in for the rest of the film's duration. Kuenne's storytelling techniques are top notch, and it's a real nut cruncher that this sad, shitty epic take on human loss is so real. By the end, I was hoping someone would come on screen and tell me I was watching a fictionalized account of someone else's imagination. That this was a faux-doc not unlike Quarantine. But it's not. And it should certainly be remembered come Oscar time. It gets a giant Whoop-doo!
Boos! And Whoop-doos!
Sticky Goo? Whoop-doo!
A couple of smaller horror films will also see release this October. Splinter is a quick cheapie that should be able to cash in on some of Let the Right One In's success. As it is also a part of Magnet's Six-Shooter film series. The plot finds a kidnapped couple and their captors holed up in a gas station as an alien being terrorizes them from the outside. Hiding in a beer cooler, they only manage to escape by a hair's breath. The creature is sort of cool, with giant black needles protruding from its thick-pitched oily skin. But it would have worked better as a short film, as the eighty minute running time is dragged past any plausible possible compensation. The acting is pretty solid, but the action is deaf and dumb. They could have shortened this thing down to five minutes, and made it the really cool opening prologue to a much better film. Splinter gets a mild Boo! Hitting the October horror festival rounds will be Jack Messitt's quick hitting cult flick Midnight Movie, a messy little squirmer that truly lives up to its name. The story finds an old slasher icon from the seventies crawling out of his own film stock and into an audience full of midnight patrons. It's a lot of fun, the killer's mask is great, and the kills are quite astonishing. It gets a big Whoop-doo! And then there is The Haunting of Molly Hartley, a movie I know absolutely nothing about. At first glance, it looks like another PG-13 screecher for tween girls. But Freestyle Releasing has assured us that this supernatural tale is quite deserving of that big fat red R rating they've slapped on its poster. It does take place at a private school for girls. So maybe there will be some soft porn boobage on display. I doubt it though. The only thing scarier than me without any pants on is an R rated scarefest without any nubile young ladies going sweaterless. It's a skip. And it gets a disinterested Boo!
Boos! And Whoop-doos!
Small Screen Monster Mashers? Whoop-doo!
If you're anything like Anthony Perkins, then heading out into the cold night air for a fright flick probably isn't quite your thing. Not to worry. There are also a lot of worthy Direct-to-DVD horror titles arriving this month, all wrapped up nicely in orange and brown hues. Just for you. First up, we've got Warner Brother's latest Raw Feed addition Rest Stop: Don't Look Back, a damn fine sequel that actually extrapolates and adds to the original's ongoing storyline by adding some spooky ghost victims to the mix. It gets a big Whoop-Doo!, as does John Gulager's Feast II: Sloppy Seconds, which picks up just seconds after the first gooey mess ended. Though it sports some might shifty production values, it's a great little monster smash-em-up. Sadly, the same thing cannot be said for Anaconda 3: The Offspring, which gets a resounding Boo! When are they going to learn that it's all about the snake, which is hardly on display here. With a straight shot crapper like this, we don't care about character development. At all. Same goes for Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead. It is such an odd mix of torture and Tickle Me Elmo cliches, I don't quite know what to think about it. The hands down best bet out of all of these has to be Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer, which centers around a plumber that fights off an onslaught of evil to save the world. This is the one you'll want to buy and own if you're low on money during these cruel economic times of ours. As for theatrical fare, both The Happening and The Strangers will find their way home on DVD this October. And both get a scream worthy Whoop-Doo!
That's it for now. Until next week, have a spooktacular time at the multiplex. And remember to brush those bones, as they are the support structure of the soul. Crotchbone say, "Whoof-ya-laters!"
Let the Right One in was released October 24th, 2008 and stars Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Henrik Dahl, Karin Bergquist, Peter Carlberg, Ika Nord, Mikael Rahm. The film is directed by Tomas Alfredson.
Twilight was released November 21st, 2008 and stars Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Cam Gigandet, Ashley Greene, Christian Serratos. The film is directed by Catherine Hardwicke.
Repo! the Genetic Opera! was released November 7th, 2008 and stars Alexa Vega, Paul Sorvino, Anthony Head, Sarah Brightman, Paris Hilton, Bill Moseley, Nivek Ogre, Terrance Zdunich. The film is directed by Darren Lynn Bousman.
Quarantine was released October 10th, 2008 and stars Jennifer Carpenter, Steve Harris, Jay Hernandez, Johnathon Schaech, Columbus Short, Andrew Fiscella, Rade Serbedzija, Greg Germann. The film is directed by John Erick Dowdle.
Synecdoche, New York was released October 24th, 2008 and stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Sadie Goldstein, Tom Noonan, Peter Friedman, Charles Techman, Josh Pais, Daniel London. The film is directed by Charlie Kaufman.
Dear Zachary: A Letter to A Son About His Father was released October 31st, 2008 and stars Kurt Kuenne, Dr. Andrew Bagby, David Bagby, Kathleen Bagby, Dr. Shirley Turner, Zachary Andrew Turner, Dr. Heather Arnold, Jon Atkinson. The film is directed by Kurt Kuenne.
Midnight Movie was released October 24th, 2008 and stars Rebekah Brandes, Daniel Bonjour, Greg Cirulnick, Mandell Maughan, Stan Ellsworth, Melissa Steach, Jon Briddell, Michael Swan. The film is directed by Jack Messitt.
The Haunting of Molly Hartley was released October 31st, 2008 and stars Haley Bennett, Jake Weber, Chace Crawford, Shannon Woodward, Shanna Collins, AnnaLynne McCord, Marin Hinkle, Nina Siemaszko. The film is directed by Mickey Liddell.
Rest Stop: Don't Look Back was released October 7th, 2008 and stars Richard Tillman, Jessie Ward, Graham Norris, Joey Mendicino, Julie Mond, Brionne Davis, Diane Salinger, Michael Childers. The film is directed by Shawn Papazian.
Anaconda 3: The Offspring was released October 21st, 2008 and stars David Hasselhoff, Crystal Allen, Ryan McCluskey, Patrick Regis, Anthony Green, John Rhys-Davies, Alin Olteanu, Toma Danila. The film is directed by Don E. FauntLeRoy.
Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead was released October 7th, 2008 and stars Nicki Aycox, Nick Zano, Kyle Schmid, Laura Jordan, Mark Gibbon, Krystal Vrba, Kathryn Kirkpatrick, Rob Carpenter. The film is directed by Louis Morneau.
The Happening was released June 13th, 2008 and stars Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo, Ashlyn Sanchez, Betty Buckley, Spencer Breslin, Robert Bailey Jr., Frank Collison. The film is directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
The Strangers was released May 30th, 2008 and stars Liv Tyler, Scott Speedman, Glenn Howerton, Gemma Ward, Kip Weeks, Laura Margolis, Alex Fisher, Peter Clayton-Luce. The film is directed by Bryan Bertino.