Movie Debaters 2013 Fear-a-thon Spectral-tacular! #23: Pumpkinhead

We’re presenting a special series of articles this October on Movie Debaters. Every week day we’ll give you a write up of a movie that evokes fear into the viewer and sends chills down the spine. (Or, just, you know movies in the horror/thriller genre.)

We call it The Movie Debaters 2013 Fear-a-thon Spectral-tacular!

I never knew Stan Winston directed a movie. I mean, it makes sense and everything but I just never knew. It’s too bad the movie largely wastes his talents. Of course the creature effects are superb — that’s a given. The rest of the movie surrounding the monster is what falters.

I feel like the biggest problem with this movie is that it has two narratives. One is the Henriksen’s arc from grieving father to realizing the errors of this ways. The other narrative is the deaths of the teenagers who directly and indirectly cause the death of Henriksen’s son.

Lance Henriksen does a good job as the role of a grieving father driven to resurrect Pumpkinhead for revenge. I also appreciated his character arc where he realizes the errors of revenge and attempts to right his wrongs.

The teenage victims in the movie are largely forgettable. Except for the the one guy who runs over a Henriksen’s kid. He’s so despicable it’s hard to forget. I mean, seriously, this character has a back story where he got in trouble for drinking and driving, the proceeds to drink and drive again which ends up killing a kid.

The two story lines converge in a weird way that deflates any sort of horror in the movie. Once Pumpkinhead is released he dispatches with all but two of the teenagers in the span of like 20 minutes. From that point the two survivors plus a random townie run away from Pumpkinhead while Henriksen tries to stop it.

So yeah, the movie is pretty forgettable. Even the creature design of Pumpkinhead isn’t up to the snuff of Winston’s work on Terminator or Jurassic Park (obviously). Of course Winston’s going to create better work when he has a bigger budget, so why restrict him to a low budget horror movie? I will say this. As a filmmaker, Winston was competent in crafting a visual narrative. Everything on screen was clear and easy to process. He didn’t succumb to any sort of desire to be inventive or wacky with the visuals.

I wish there was one good redeeming value to this movie. I’d gladly promote if it had a really good, groundbreaking creature design or if the on screen deaths were super gruesome. That’s not the case. It’s just a wholly average movie. The only real draw is seeing what Winston was able to do in the director’s chair.

-Harrison

Movie Debaters 2013 Fear-a-thon Spectral-tacular! #22: John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness

We’re presenting a special series of articles this October on Movie Debaters. Every week day we’ll give you a write up of a movie that evokes fear into the viewer and sends chills down the spine. (Or, just, you know movies in the horror/thriller genre.)

We call it The Movie Debaters 2013 Fear-a-thon Spectral-tacular!

We at Movie Debaters are huge fans of John Carpenter’s work. How can you not be? He’s not called the Master of Horror for nothing. Not only that, but it’s just a great genre filmmaker. Now, I can’t speak on behalf of Josh, but I actually haven’t seen all of Carpenter’s movies. Most, but not all. That’s because I’m so impulsive in what I watch that I don’t have the patience to work my way through all of a given filmmaker’s work. Hell, I haven’t seen all of Stanley Kubrick’s movies yet even though he’s Stanley effing Kubrick.

The point is this is the first time I’ve seen Prince of Darkness. It was amazing.

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Movie Debaters 2013 Fear-a-thon Spectral-tacular! #21: Land of the Dead

We’re presenting a special series of articles this October on Movie Debaters. Every week day we’ll give you a write up of a movie that evokes fear into the viewer and sends chills down the spine. (Or, just, you know movies in the horror/thriller genre.)

We call it The Movie Debaters 2013 Fear-a-thon Spectral-tacular!

I’ve always liked the George A. Romero Of the Dead series. In fact, I finally saw Day of the Dead a few weeks ago. (It was great.) I even liked Zach Snyder’s remake of Dawn of the Dead.

When Land of the Dead came out I was kind of skeptical. It had been so long since Romero had made a zombie movie. Would it hold up? Would he still have the magic? Upon its release the movie got pretty middling reviews. Ever since then I’ve kind of ignored it.

Well it turns out my fears were a bit unfounded. The movie is a perfectly average, serviceable zombie movie. It’s got some interesting social commentary that’s not nearly as strong as Dawn of the Dead’s, but it’s still there. I liked that in the movie the zombies and lower class people represent the same side of the economic divide.

The gore and special effects are great and to be expected. I liked the look of the zombies too. Especially the yellow eyes and teeth of the Big Daddy zombie. And the scene where partially decapitated zombie swings his head down onto a soldier’s arm is an instant classic.

One thing I really liked about the movie was that it was a commentary about the dangers of complacency. In the film, the rich folk feel safe and secure. They’ve pretty much gone back to their regular lives of eating dinner in fancy restaurants, wearing suits, being catered to by servants, etc. Once the shit hits the fan — of course it does — they’re completely powerless to stop it.

This is great subject matter for a horror movie. Did you ever notice how in horror series they tend to get less scary and more action oriented as the series progresses? Or maybe instead of staying scary they get funnier and campier? It’s because a basic tenant of horror is the feeling of helplessness. Once the audience and characters become more accustomed to the danger, they have less reason to be surprised by it. If you’re not surprised by it, then it’s not as scary.

So the people in this movie become complacent. They’ve adjusted and learned to sneer at the danger around them. Of course the lower class people and soldiers are still on edge for the danger. They’re still aware of the danger around them.

Real quick: The rest of the movie surrounding these themes is a little generic. Like I said above the movie is perfectly serviceable. It’s not like the movie is a train wreck or anything. The cast does their job, the story moves at a steady pace; it’s just not as groundbreaking as the previous in the series.

I was really glad to see Romero still mostly had the touch with Land of the Dead. I think between this movie and the previous three, they’re perfect studies on how humanity would react to a zombie apocalypse.

-Harrison

Movie Debaters 2013 Fear-a-thon Spectral-tacular! #20: Black Rat

We’re presenting a special series of articles this October on Movie Debaters. Every week day we’ll give you a write up of a movie that evokes fear into the viewer and sends chills down the spine. (Or, just, you know movies in the horror/thriller genre.)

We call it The Movie Debaters 2013 Fear-a-thon Spectral-tacular!

I like watching lesser known, underground movies. It’s not so much a hipster thing like “I am better than you for seeing obscure movies.” It’s because I love championing underground movies and helping to get them more well known.

For the first half of Black Rat I was convinced I found a really awesome movie. Unfortunately, the back half of the movie threw away the good will created by the first half.

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Movie Debaters 2013 Fear-a-thon Spectral-tacular! #19: Leviathan

We’re presenting a special series of articles this October on Movie Debaters. Every week day we’ll give you a write up of a movie that evokes fear into the viewer and sends chills down the spine. (Or, just, you know movies in the horror/thriller genre.)

We call it The Movie Debaters 2013 Fear-a-thon Spectral-tacular!

If you want to be uncharitable to Leviathan you can call it a ripoff of Alien and The Thing. “Ripoff” is pretty harsh term in of itself. It’s not like Alien or The Thing have a stranglehold on that type of movie. Other people are allowed to make a movie about a strange monster picking off people one by one while they work in an extreme environment. But on the other hand, Leviathan is about crew members of a mining operation who battle a monster that absorbs the features of a host. Not only that, but the corporation in charge of the mining expedition is less than ethical in their intent.

In other words, Leviathan is a ripoff.

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Movie Debaters 2013 Fear-a-thon Spectral-tacular! #18: Hellraiser

We’re presenting a special series of articles this October on Movie Debaters. Every week day we’ll give you a write up of a movie that evokes fear into the viewer and sends chills down the spine. (Or, just, you know movies in the horror/thriller genre.)

We call it The Movie Debaters 2013 Fear-a-thon Spectral-tacular!

You know, I’ve always wondered why I never saw any of the Hellraiser movies. When I was a kid I watched a bunch of the Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Halloween movies super late at night on cable. (Seriously, in the late 90s/early 2000s the USA Network seemed to love showing horror movies at 3am.)

After watching Hellraiser I now know why they were never shown. It’s a sadomasochistic S&M body horror movie. It’s very reminiscent of David Cronenberg’s work. There’s no way it could ever be shown on any form of tv.

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Movie Debaters 2013 Fear-a-thon Spectral-tacular! #17: Ju-On: The Grudge

We’re presenting a special series of articles this October on Movie Debaters. Every week day we’ll give you a write up of a movie that evokes fear into the viewer and sends chills down the spine. (Or, just, you know movies in the horror/thriller genre.)

We call it The Movie Debaters 2013 Fear-a-thon Spectral-tacular!

Confession time: Back when Japanese horror films were all the rage, specifically, I mean, when Hollywood was adapting Japanese horror movies, I was just beginning my journey as a film nerd. That’s a long sentence to set up the fact that I shunned the Japanese horror movies just because they were popular at the time. I know. It’s terrible. I’ve always had a bit of a hipster streak in me.

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Movie Debaters 2013 Fear-a-thon Spectral-tacular! #16: The Mummy (1932)

We’re presenting a special series of articles this October on Movie Debaters. Every week day we’ll give you a write up of a movie that evokes fear into the viewer and sends chills down the spine. (Or, just, you know movies in the horror/thriller genre.)

We call it The Movie Debaters 2013 Fear-a-thon Spectral-tacular!

Pop culture is a funny thing. When you think of a mummy who here doesn’t think of a humanoid shape wrapped in old, tattered bandages? I know I think of them that way.

So imagine my surprise that save for the opening scene, there’s no real depiction of a mummy like that. Most of the movie is just Boris Karloff dressed up like a guy whose skin is really, really dry. To be fair, it is good make up effects.

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Movie Debaters 2013 Fear-a-thon Spectral-tacular! #15: Rosemary’s Baby

We’re presenting a special series of articles this October on Movie Debaters. Every week day we’ll give you a write up of a movie that evokes fear into the viewer and sends chills down the spine. (Or, just, you know movies in the horror/thriller genre.)

We call it The Movie Debaters 2013 Fear-a-thon Spectral-tacular!

I’ve been meaning to write about missing out on older movies for a long time but I’ve never gotten around to it. (This is gonna seem funny in a second.)

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Movie Debaters 2013 Fear-a-thon Spectral-tacular! #14: The Innkeepers

We’re presenting a special series of articles this October on Movie Debaters. Every week day we’ll give you a write up of a movie that evokes fear into the viewer and sends chills down the spine. (Or, just, you know movies in the horror/thriller genre.)

We call it The Movie Debaters 2013 Fear-a-thon Spectral-tacular!

I think this is the first proper ghost story I’ve watched for the Spectral-tacular. Kind of weird it took that long…

I feel like Ti West has had a very hot and cold run so for. The House of the Devil is a legit modern horror classic. His two short films for V/H/S and The ABCs of Death weren’t so great.

The Innkeepers comes smack dab in the middle of his horror output. It’s a good movie but it doesn’t quite reach the heights of The House of the Devil.

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