The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014) – Review

The Town That Dreaded Sundown movie poster

The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014) Is Remarkably “Blah” And Pointless, Which Is A Pity Considering The Source Material”

While I was a bit dismayed when I first learned that one of the favorite horror films was being remade, The Town That Dreaded Sundown, I am even more put out to see it turn up on Netflix this evening (which implies that it wasn’t good enough to release in theaters because, while I am a huge fan of Netflix, movies that aren’t created by Netflix don’t traditionally make it their first stop).

It’s already a bit too meta for my tastes and opens with a couple at a drive-in, watching the original The Town That Dreaded Sundown–someone even wears an eponymously-titled t-shirt, which is a bit like wearing a shirt with James Holmes‘ picture on the anniversary of the Colorado theater shootings.  Sure, you could do it, but it would also be in awfully bad taste), and with some people protesting that a movie based on a true event was being shown again.

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The (Un)necessary Remake Dept: The Manitou

The Manitou movie posterSome people might call William Girdler’s The Manitou a ripoff of The Exorcist, and in a sense they’d be right in that both involve possession of a sort.  Then’s there’s the fact that Girdler’s film came five years afterwards, though other than that it’s a whole other animal and deserves revisiting.

The movie, based on the novel by horror writer Graham Masterson, revolves around a woman named Karen Tandy (Susan Strasberg), who one day discovers that she has a tumor on her back.

Which is a huge mindfuck in and of itself, never mind that the tumor ends up being the doorway–and by “doorway” I mean a full-sized human being grows on her back and eventually rips its way out long before Alien was even an idea for Walter Hill and David Giler–through which Misquamacus, a Native American sorcerer, would be reborn after 400 years.

The premise of the movie is pretty goofy, which works in its favor because it makes it feel more original than it actually is.

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Serial Killing 101- Review

Trace Slobotkin‘s 2004 movie, Serial Killing 101 (otherwise known as Serial Killing 4 Dummys) is a shockingly–”shockingly” because it looks relatively cheap– entertaining movie.

Visually, the problems are due to the cinematography of John P. Tarver, who’s lighting seems to wash out virtually everything it touches.

Which is a pity because once you get beyond that, the movie is actually pretty clever, even witty, at times.

Events revolve around Casey Nolan (Justin Urich) an actor that actually looks like a high school student–which very well might have been the case at the time–casting that’s appreciated when filmmakers are too often quick to pass off twenty-somethings as teens.

He’s a bit of a slacker, and bored with school, which results in him writing a paper about his desire to be a serial killer, which  doesn’t go over too well with his teacher, Mr. Korn’s (Rick Overton), who’s intervention sets into motion a whole series of unfortunate–for Casey–events.

As I said earlier, the movie is more clever than you’d think, and shockingly fun.

Serial Killing 4 Dummys

Whatever the guy (in red circle) is staring at, it’s not Casey

It also has some big name actors, such as Thomas Hayden Church (as an tad overzealous gym teacher), a virtually unrecognizable Corey Feldman (prior to the credits, I had no idea he was even in the movie, though after a second viewing I wondered how I missed him in the first place) as a store clerk, Lisa Loeb as Sasha Fitzgerald as a serial killer enabler (?) and eventual love interest and the great George Murdock as Detective Ray Berro.

I mentioned how clever the writing of this movie was, and there was an interesting payoff of an earlier scene in the movie that’s particularly well-handled (some of the practical FX, not so much).  It shouldn’t be so surprising to see a bit that’s set up in the beginning of the movie pay off at the end, but there you go.

Things wrap up a bit too neatly–all that was missing was a bow–as Casey’s fortunes begin to turn, but that’s a small gripe.

It’s also worth mentioning the winning performance by Stuart Stone (Amil) because once you get used the character, he threatens to steal any scene he turns up in.

Serial Killing 101 isn’t a great movie; it’s barely good, though what it is fun and doesn’t take itself quite so seriously, which is an okay every once in awhile.

 

Serial Killing 101 is currently on Netflix.

 

Unfriended – Trailer

Gotta say, I like where this trailer is going.  Levan Gabriadze’s Unfriended looks pretty interesting and very much in the vein of The Den (if you haven’t seen it, it’s on Neflix, so check it out!).

We’re also lucky that someone decided that the original title of Cybernatural was pretty hokey–that may not have been the primary motivation for changing it, though it is–unless you’re taking about a sequel to Johnny Nemonic or something.

Unfriended seems to revolve around cyberbulling–a very real problem–among a small circle of friends, which causes one of them to kill themselves.

Or did she?  The group receives messages from the Facebook account of the dead person, which seems to indicate that whomever is on the other end of the account not only knows that one of their number instigated a suicide, but they’re willing to kill to find out which member of their group did it.

Unfriended looks like it’s relatively low-budget, in the vein of Blumhouse productions.

Though anything that makes Facebook interesting, I’m game.

John Carpenter’s “Halloween” Screening For Free (For A Limited Time Only)!

How limited, you might ask?  I have no idea, though according to The Daily Dead the free period began on the 16th, two days ago, so if you don’t already have in your collection, I’d take advantage of it before someone comes to their senses.

Besides, the last “horror” film I watched was Children Of The Corn: Urban Harvest, which was pretty funny, though the humor was unfortunately of the unintentional variety.

Unlike Halloween, which was one of the most influential horror films ever made.  What’s most interesting is that, despite how iconic the film may seem to viewers now, at the time Carpenter was making it he not only had any idea it would be as innovative as it ended up being, but its success almost defied logic.

Z Nation: Not Nearly As Bad As It Should Be

When Syfy premiered Z Nation a few months ago, the only thing that I was curious about was what took them so long.  The Walking Dead has been breaking ratings records for AMC for years now, so that it took so long for someone to premiere another series that revolved around the undead was a bit of a surprise (and I don’t mean high-concept pseudo-zombie series like The Returned).

If we forget for a moment the insane idea that Syfy, a network so based on science fiction that it’s actually in the name, was so late to the party and that the series is made by The Asylum (known for schlock like Sharknado, Atlantic Rim and American Battleship), it’s actually not terrible.

Trailers Somehow Possess the Magical Ability To Make Things Less Pathetic

The series revolves around a zombie apocalypse, with a rag-tag group of survivors trying to make their way to California.  The twist is that a member of their party includes a person who is apparently immune to the virus that creates zombies, which means that they have to protect him as best they can as they make their way to the West Coast.

The FX is pretty spotty, character development is just about nil, but for an Asylum feature, it’s actually pretty good.  Now, if it weren’t so lacking in logic–which is saying something considering that we’re talking about a series about the walking dead–and flimsy characterization, it could give critical darling The Walking Dead a run for its money.

What bugs me–beyond that which I already mentioned–is that everyone works way too hard not to use the word “zombie”(as if The Walking Dead has it copyrighted–and they very well may) or something, despite the fact that it’s the first word someone would use under such conditions.

 

Z Nation is currently on Netflix

‘Dark Skies’ Is On Netflix

If you’re like me, when you think ‘Christmas’ you also think ‘horror,’ you’re in luck because Netflix has one of the better alien abduction movies, Scott Stewart‘s Dark Skies.  What makes it work is that it, unlike most movies of this particular genre, spends its time letting us get to know the family that is under siege by forces way beyond their control and understanding, so that by the time the proverbial shit hits the fan, you’re invested.

Which makes everything all the more terrifying.

Trust me.  If you like intelligent, well-done alien invasion thrillers, Dark Skies is right up your alley.

By the way, the movie co-stars J.K. Simmons, and as usual, he’s awesome.