Tuesday, November 21, 2017

We interrupt your regularly scheduled posting

With my apologies, this week's The Walking Dead recap will be late because I spent my Sunday and Monday nights bingeing my way through the back half of Netflix's Marvel's The Punisher and I just haven't watched Sunday's TWD episode yet.  I have to say that I really enjoyed The Punisher, more than I expected to.  I've never read the comics and so my only exposure to the character was through Daredevil S2.  Frankly (haha see what I did there?), I thought Frank Castle was the best part of Daredevil's second season.  I never liked Jon Bernthal in The Walking Dead but now I realize that it was his character - Shane, ugh - whom I hated because Bernthal is FANTASTIC as Frank Castle.  He can be charming as hell and then turns on a dime to be brutal/sad/scary; he has fantastic chemistry with pretty much anyone he is paired with, especially with Deborah Ann Woll/Karen.  The Punisher is truly brutal but it is also very thoughtful and if I wished it had been even more introspective/exploratory in some of its themes, it is still not the Rambo-esque bulletfest I feared it would be.

Netflix/Marvel series, in order of preferenceJessica Jones; The Punisher; Daredevil S1; The Defenders/Luke Cage* (tie); The Defenders; Daredevil S2 (as a whole because too many damn ninjas); stupid/insipid Iron Fist.

*  I'm torn on where to put The Defenders: parts of it I LOVED (anything with Jessica and/or Luke; and anything with someone giving Danny Rand shit) but then you had to have Danny Rand and Matt in his mope-y iteration which was less enjoyable.  On it's own, I liked Luke Cage quite a lot but they killed Cottonmouth too soon OOPS SPOILER and I may have dozed off during some of the later episodes.  In any event, Claire Temple should be in all the shows more.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Walking Dead S8E4 "Some Guy" 11/12/17

Ezekiel finally gets to have an episode focused on him.  We start with a bit of a flashback: getting ready before launching the big fight against Negan, dressing, arming himself, walking out into the Kingdom and giving another speech.  The man does love to give speeches, even as Carol watches, bemused, but the thing of it is, his people thrive on his words.  He encourages them, lifts their spirits, rallies them.

And then we cut to now: the field where Ezekiel and Carol's band of mainly Kingdomites lay in bloody, bloody pieces, torn to bits by the Saviors' two .50 cal machine guns.

When the shit went down, Carol was out scouting.  Ezekiel was protected by a group of his people, shielding him with their bodies.  He drags himself out from under the pile.  His leg is injured and he crawls from corpse to corpse, turning them over, looking at their faces and their massive, ruptured wounds.  He allows himself a scream to the sky ... but it is cut short when the first of the dead stirs, coming back to life.  Soon enough, the King is crawling away from a herd of walkers.  His gun is empty, the next gun he picks up is empty, he's only got his sword/cane.  The walkers converge.  Ezekiel is saved - momentarily - when a still-living soldier of his rushes up, putting down the closest walkers and helping his king to stand. 

That rescue is short-lived when a nerdy, glasses-wearing Savior kills the Kingdom soldier and forces Ezekiel to his feet.  This dude spends the next while badgering Ezekiel, telling him he's a con man with gullible subjects, waving a gun in the king's face and generally being a huge asshole.  All the while, the herd of walkers marches inexorably towards them. 

Meanwhile, Carol makes her way through the warehouse where the Saviors are packing up those giant guns.  She is a calm, competent badass and when she hides in the ceiling and then takes out five of them, it's awesome (even though it's ridiculous because she shot through the drop ceiling and certainly couldn't have seen her targets).  More Saviors show up and she has to skedaddle, out to the door yard where she watches them load those big guns onto a jeep.

King Ezekiel and his captor are cornered at a chainlink fence.  Ezekiel is in a lot of pain and is beginning to lose his bravado.  The Savior decides that maybe he doesn't need to bring the King back alive - maybe his head will do.  But before things can get much worse, Jerry is there, swinging his big ax and splitting that Savior right about in two.  Jerry picks off the nearest walkers to buy some time and then tries to break the chain holding the gate together.  When Ezekiel tells him to stop calling him "your majesty," Jerry's all, "Dude, yes I do."  The walkers come closer and closer and Jerry can't get the chain off the gate.  He and Ezekiel are trapped and soon fighting hand to hand against the walkers.  Jerry:  "Thank you, your majesty."  Ezekiel, with no trace of his Shakespearean accent: "For what?"  Jerry: "For bein' such a cool dude."

In the door yard, not far from the fence where Ezekiel and Jerry are trapped, Carol and the Saviors start shooting a lot of bullets at each other.  It's basically a standoff and a ridiculous number of bullets are wasted.  Then Carol sees Ezekiel and Jerry, pinned down against the fence. She fakes out the Saviors and manages to open another gate behind her foes.  The walkers come in and attack the Saviors, giving Carol enough time to run to the fence by Ezekiel and Jerry.  She drops the walkers there with her machine gun and gets the chain off, letting the two men in to safety. 

The remaining two Saviors drive off with the .50 caliber guns, however.  This distresses Ezekiel, since their mission had been to collect those guns, but then they catch the sound of Daryl's motorcycle in the distance.  Carol: "They're not getting away with the guns."

Another flashback, this one a little intrusive, given that the episode had been pretty involving up until this point, with Ezekiel and Carol talking and admitting that each of them made a choice to become who they are today.

As Daryl and Rick, in a jeep, run the Saviors off the road and capture those guns, Carol, Ezekiel and Jerry are on foot, trying to stay ahead of the herd of walkers.  Ezekiel's hurt leg is slowing them down and they end up trying to make their way through the woods.  They come upon a creekbed filled with barrels of toxic waste: the walkers milling around in there are pale and bloated - like that walker Ezekiel commented upon a couple of episodes ago (and we KNEW these toxic walkers would make another appearance) - and when Jerry hits them with his ax, they basically explode into disgusting white pus.  Carol, Ezekiel and Jerry try to get across the creek but there are a lot of walkers.  They struggle to get the king up the far side and he insists that he leave him there - he can buy them time.  In fact, he wastes some time by making another speech - time that would have been better spent climbing up that banking and getting away - crying out that he isn't a king, he isn't a leader, he's nothing, he's just some guy.

Just then, Shiva the magnificent CGI tiger leaps into the creek.  As she lays waste to several walkers, Carol and Jerry haul Ezekiel out of the creek.  He turns and calls to the tiger but she keeps fighting the walkers as they surround her.  Eventually, there are too many even for her and they collapse on her and begin to feed as Ezekiel screams her name.  (Apparently this is the way she dies in the comics, under a pile of walkers, sacrificing herself so Ezekiel can get away.)  The scummy water in the creek turns red with tiger blood.  I'm a little sad - yes, for the death of a CGI tiger based on a comic book tiger.

Carol, Ezekiel and Jerry finally return to the Kingdom.  They are the only ones to come back out of everyone who left.  The people of the Kingdom gather around their king, shock and sadness on their faces.  He can barely meet their gazes.  There are no speeches now.

Best episode of the season so far.  Even if the tiger had to die.

Previously on The Walking Dead / next time on The Walking Dead

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Mini movie review: John Wick: Chapter 2

Ooooooooooooooo John Wick: Chapter 2!!!  Everything that was great about the first movie (and that's pretty much everything) is even moreso in JW:C2.  It is bigger than the first one, without the singularity of focus, but it is friggin' awesome.  I have decided that should I need a lost weekend, I will be marathoning The Road Warrior, Mad Max: Fury Road and the John Wicks, plus Terminator 2.  That's some of the best action going, in my opinion. 

But I digress.  Watch John Wick: Chapter 2.  So good.

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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Walking Dead S8E3 "Monsters" 11/5/17

How is it possible that an ultraviolent show full of flesh-eating zombies and people on the ragged edge of humanity is so fucking BORING?  And why are we three episodes in with only minimal Michonne?  Don't get me wrong - I'm grateful that we haven't much been subjected to her "chemistry" with Rick (*gag*).  But Michonne is a kickass fighter and I miss that.  Perhaps her Black Panther schedule meant she couldn't be around so much?  I suppose that's it.  Sigh.  Guess I can't put this off any longer. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ...

Sweet christ on a pony - King Ezekiel is STILL talking about their victories, one leading to another, and how they haven't lost a warrior yet.  He is obviously not up on his television tropes since this definitely means disaster for his war band by episode's end.  In the meantime, he and Carol and his fighters stick to their plan, remember their training and manage to decimate rather a lot of Saviors in several different places.

Morales makes Rick put his guns down and they talk and talk and fucking talk.  Nothing new is said.  Morales is all, you're a monster now, I'm a monster now, blah blah blah.  It seriously goes on for WAY too long and in addition to that being annoying, Morales calls Rick by his name practically every other sentence which makes no sense since there's only the two of them there.  Morales talks and talks and talks and no one cares, because who even remembers this guy?  And then, with no ceremony and HILARIOUSLY, Daryl comes up behind Morales and shoots an arrow into his head, just as Rick is all, "Wait - no!"  Daryl shrugs and retrieves his arrow; Rick looks stunned but that's sort of how he looks all the time now unless he's shouting at someone.

Meanwhile, outside, the Saviors have been called back into the building (where they will shortly be hunting Rick and Daryl).  Aaron takes advantage of the lull to get Eric to a quiet tree around the corner.  They pack Eric's gunshot wound as best they can and then Eric tells Aaron he needs to go back to the fight.  Aaron cries and snuffles and they both smooch and say "I love you."  Then Aaron gives Eric a rifle to defend himself and goes back to the fight, with many tearful backward glances.  You know this means Eric is going to die now, off-camera, right?  It would be touching if Eric had ever been given some depth character-wise.

Meanwhile, Tara, Morgan and Jesus are marching their captive Saviors back to the Hilltop.  Tara is very cranky about the prisoners but Jesus is insistent that they not be executed.  Morgan is even crankier about it - and seems to be holding onto his sanity by just a thread - and you know, I'm kind of with him and Tara on this.  The Hilltop is ill-equipped to contain a bunch of violent Saviors and I think this is a terrible idea on Jesus's part.  Luckily, they get interrupted when a small herd of walkers comes tumbling down a hillside into the group.  This is one of the best parts of the episode: seeing the zombies roll down the hill.  Tara, Morgan, Jesus et als fight the walkers; several of the tied-up captives get munched on.  But a string of captives take advantage of the distraction to make a run for it.

Morgan takes off after them, catches them and drops one or two.  Then Jesus catches up and he and Morgan fight about it.  Like, literally beat each other up over whether the captives should be killed or not.  Despite Morgan having his bo staff, Jesus gets the better of him with just his bare hands.  Morgan is pretty crazed here - seems like he's all all-or-nothing guy with respect to killing.  Personally, I miss Zen Morgan a bit: I think his philosophy was a tough sell in this post-apocalypse but Serial Killer Morgan is less interesting.  Finally, they stop fighting (Jesus wins, more or less) but Morgan.  Has.  Had.  Enough.  He's all, "I'm not right but that doesn't make me wrong."  As he runs off, unable to handle things right now, Tara calls after him, "Morgan! You are right!"

Meanwhile, the remaining Saviors who were shooting at Aaron's group are now inside, shooting at Daryl and Rick.  This goes on a LONG time (many, many bullets).  Neither Rick nor Daryl gets shot and Aaron's group finally comes in and picks off the Saviors.  Trouble is, there are no guns in this building like Dwight said there were.  Aaron runs out to check on Eric: there's a lot of blood under that tree, and Eric's abandoned rifle, and a walker in the distance who looks like it could be Eric.  Aaron has lots of sad feelings about this until another Alexandrian grabs him and leads him back to the rest of the group.  Rick comes out with that baby Gracie and a tearful Aaron says that he will take the baby to Maggie at Hilltop.

Meanwhile at Hilltop, that weasel Gregory has found his way home.  He shouts and begs and pleads (and is pretty funny in his weasel-osity).  Maggie makes him squirm for a while and then finally lets him in.  And then the sentry shouts for her: Tara and Jesus and their captives are at the gate.  Gregory vigorously protests letting them in and Maggie sends him off.  But she is reluctant, reminding Jesus that there are families - children - here.  Jesus pleads his case: we can't let them go and we can't kill them.  Maggie looks as though she's not entirely sure (but I'm guessing she'll let them live - and then regret it in the near future).

Rick and Daryl are the last to leave wherever it is they are.  A last Savior takes a shot at them and Rick makes a deal: if he tells them about the guns that were supposed to be there, they will give him a car and let him go - Rick gives him his word.  The Savior comes out with his hands up, tells them that the guns were moved a couple days ago (intel that Dwight apparently (?) didn't have).  Then Daryl shoots the guy in the head, dropping him.  Rick is all, but I gave my word!  And Daryl's all, dude, I so DNGAF.

Finally, King Ezekiel is crowing about his band's latest success.  Carol heads off to sweep the compound they just took.  Everyone else stands in the field and stabs the heads of Savior corpses to keep them from turning.  And then, Ezekiel catches sight of movement in a warehouse window.  He shouts for his people to take cover but it is too late: a massive volley of machine gun fire (the guns Rick and Daryl were hoping to find?) rakes the field, shredding a bunch of the King's men. That's okay just do not shoot the tiger.

Previously on The Walking Dead / next time on The Walking Dead

Friday, November 3, 2017

Mini movie review: The Purge: Anarchy

After watching the first Purge movie back in October, I was fairly convinced that this series didn't qualify for horror movie status.  But I wanted to be thorough in my research and watched the second one, The Purge: Anarchy and yes, I can reiterate that I do not consider the Purge series to be horror flicks but tense action/thrillers instead.  No sense letting a quickie movie review go to waste, however!

Once again, it is the near future in the U.S.A. and time for the annual Purge wherein poor and brown Americans are disproportionately killed off, thus keeping the power in the hands of the rich white folks.  From out of this horrible night emerges a hero - played with a steel jaw by Frank Grillo - who ignores the unwritten rule that you are not supposed to save lives, only take them.  The twelve hours of the Purge become a cat and mouse game of trying to stay alive.

This movie is violent and has a horrible concept but it ain't horror.  It is compelling enough that I'll probably see the next installment as well, as from what I've ready the series gets better as it goes.  Plus, more Frank Grillo!

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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Walking Dead S8E2 "The Damned" 10/29/17

I try to get my recaps of The Walking Dead up on Tuesdays:  the show airs Sundays (but late enough that I don't stay up to watch it); I watch the show straight through on Mondays; and I rewatch the show whilst recapping on Tuesdays.  This past Tuesday was Halloween and Mr. Mouse and I had gone out for dinner - we never get enough trick-or-treaters to make it worth staying home and handing out candy - and got back too late for me to want to drag out my laptop.  No big deal - it's not like anything happened.  I never thought that an episode of nothing but gun battles could be as boring as an episode of nothing but hanging around Herschel's farm, talking.  But yeah, it kinda was.

Extreme close-ups of:  Rick, Daryl, Aaron, Tara, Jesus and Morgan, all looking nervous and determined; Carol and Ezekiel, looking dazed and dusty.

Here's the thing, we now will spend the entire episode following several groups of our heroes as they execute various attacks on Savior installations.

Aaron, boyfriend Eric and a crew roll up behind their homemade armored cars and get into a shoot-out with a bunch of Saviors, some fighters and some workers.  There is much shooting of semiautomatic weapons.  Seriously, does no one reload?  Does no one worry about the finite amount of ammunition left in this world?  They shoot and shoot and shoot and no one tries to gain any ground.  The Saviors advance a little and start picking a few good guys off.  Then, apparently this has been going on for HOURS because the dead Saviors become zombified and turn on the living Saviors, who just stand there and get bit.  Because they can only fight against living people?  And how long does it take for a corpse to get back up again?  Because that seemed pretty quick.  Also, boyfriend Eric gets gutshot and Aaron is sad.  Eric's only characterizations are (1) ginger and (2) Aaron's boyfriend, so I'm not that torn up about it.

Morgan, Tara and Jesus are attacking a Savior outpost with big satellite dishes on top.  I don't know or can't remember why this outpost is important (food? weapons?) other than it is held by the Saviors.  They work their way through the building, picking off Saviors.  Morgan has clearly moved on from his not-killing-people stance (which is too bad because it made him interesting).  Jesus and Tara find a dude locked in a closet: Tara wants to kill him, Jesus wants to spare him and it turns out that Tara was right because the dude grabs Jesus and almost kills him.  Our heroes finally get the upper hand and Jesus insists on tying him up.  I'm sure that won't turn out to be a bad idea.  Meanwhile, in another part of the building, Morgan and two redshirts open a door.  The Saviors inside open fire, dropping them all before scampering away.  Some time later, it turns out that Morgan is, in fact, not dead; the two redshirts either are or are about to be.  Morgan stands up, shakes himself and then moves through the building to rejoin his team, implacably shooting a hell of a lot of people.  When he meets back up with Jesus, Tara et als., they have - against Tara's better judgment - convinced the remaining Saviors to put down their weapons and surrender.  Morgan looks like he's about to gun down the lot of them but Jesus talks him down.

Carol and Ezekiel's team is dazed by an explosion that went off at the end of last episode.  A bunch of zombies pour out of a building and they have to deal with them first, before setting off after one Savior (who set the explosion) because if he gets back to base, he'll tell Negan that they're coming.  Carol: "If he tells them we're here, it's over before it's started."  But I'm pretty sure that the Saviors are already aware they're under attack, so I'm not sure what the big urgency is.  Still, they start tracking the guy, Ezekiel doing his rah-rah-king spiel which makes his men happy and makes Carol roll her eyes.  As they track their quarry through the woods, they encounter a particularly gross walker - droopy and gloppy and swollen, with shredded flesh - and Ezekiel asks, "What befell this creature?"  I'm guessing that this will come back again at a later time but Carol brushes it off.  They keep going through the woods, tracking the runaway Savior.  He almost makes back to his outpost when another group of Kingdom soldiers appear - with Shiva.  That giant gorgeous CGI tiger pounces on the runaway Savior and kills him.  Ezekiel gives another rah-rah speech whilst scratching Shiva behind the ears.  I wonder if I'm the only one worried that Shiva will get a taste for human blood and turn on the good guys - I'm not sure a tiger can be trained to only kill Saviors.

Rick and Daryl work their way through another building, looking for a cache of guns that Dwight told them about.  It takes them a long time, picking off people as they go, working their way up floor by floor.  Rick and Daryl split up to cover more ground.  It still takes a long time.  Daryl finds a cell that looks like the one Negan held him in and he gets feelings about it.  Rick gets into a brutal skirmish with a Savior and ends up impaling the guy on a metal shelving bracket.  Then he finds a baby in a crib ("Gracie" on the wall) and gets feelings about the baby.  Then a dude comes up behind him with a gun, saying he's already radioed the Sanctuary and the Saviors are coming back.  Rick recognizes this guy from Atlanta (i.e., S1) and it's supposed to be important, I guess?  The guy's name is Morales and maybe the comic book fans are excited about this but honestly, I don't remember him at all and am having a tough time caring.

Extreme close-ups of:  Rick, Daryl, Aaron looking sweaty and worried; Morgan, Jesus and Tara with blank looks on their faces; Ezekiel and Carol with confident little smiles.

So yeah, lots of bullets, not so much actually happening.

Previously on The Walking Dead / next time on The Walking Dead

Monday, October 30, 2017

Eighth Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series: #19 Trick R Treat

Here we are, gentle readers, the final movie of this years Scarelicious October Movie Series!  I had hoped to get to twenty but nineteen scary movies watched in a month still beats the previous record of seventeen, so I'm not going to pout about it.  I could probably squeeze one more in but there's the TWD recap to go up on Halloween proper.  At any rate, the final movie of the month is the very Halloween-y but not very scary Trick R Treat.

I'm feeling particularly lazy so here's IMBD's plot synopsis.  Five interwoven stories that occur on Halloween: an everyday high school principal has a secret life as a serial killer; a college virgin might have just met the guy for her; a group of teenagers pull a mean prank; a woman who loathes the night has to contend with her holiday-obsessed husband; and a mean old man meets his match with a demonic, supernatural trick-or-treater.

This isn't an anthology; rather the stories brush up against each other on one Halloween night in a small town that goes all-out to celebrate Halloween and making the punishment of those who violate the rules of the holiday the focus of several of its vignettes. All over the internet, horror movie aficionados praise this flick as one of the best of the season and I will agree that it is absolutely one of the most Halloween-centric movies ever,  Personally, I'm more of a horror fan than a Halloween fan, and Trick R Treat is just not scary, so while I appreciate the sentiment, I was a bit meh about the execution.  Still, for those who looooooove Halloween, I can see Trick R Treat becoming a yearly re-watch.

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Saturday, October 28, 2017

Eighth Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series: #18 Cold Prey

As a rule, I am not a big fan of the slasher genre of horror movies.  Other than the classics that started the whole thing (the original Halloween, Friday the Thirteenth, Nightmare on Elm Street and Black Christmas), I don't find them to be that good: group of kids, largely unlikable, get together for shenanigans; killer, whose past drove him to kill, starts picking them off one by one; I don't care because I don't care about any of these characters.  Cold Prey, a 2006 Norwegian slasher (a/k/a Fritt vilt), takes all the well-worn slasher tropes and does right by them.

A group of five sporty, young, attractive Norwegians - Jannicke and Eirik, Ingunn and Mikal, and fifth-wheel Morten - head off into the back country for some crowd-free snowboarding.  It is all going swimmingly until Morten takes a hard fall and breaks his leg badly.  Jannicke proves quite capable and resets his leg; the group then takes shelter in an abandoned ski resort.  The place looks to have closed in the mid 1970s and a closer look at the hotel guest book shows that someone's child was lost, leading to the closure.  After Jannicke disinfects Morten's wound and seals it shut with crazy-glue, the kids build a fire, manage to get the generator running again and make the best of it.  As night falls, Ingunn and Mikal find an empty hotel room (Room 237, in a shout-out to The Shining) and that's when things start to go bad.  The killer starts picking them off, one by one.  It is bloody but not horrifically so.  The killer is brutal but not inhumanly so.  And the kids act like normal human beings would when placed in this terrifying position.

I thought Cold Prey was fantastic.  The "slutty girl" was not, in fact, slutty.  The "annoying sidekick guy" was neither annoying nor treated like a sidekick.  Although there wasn't deep characterization for anyone, I actually liked these kids and so cared when the killer was after them - Jannicke, the kickass Final Girl, is smart, kind, thoughtful and believable.  There is a sequel, Cold Prey 2, which apparently picks right up where this one leaves off and, by expert accounts, is even better than this first one.  I'm going to have to re-think my stance on slashers if this keeps up.

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Friday, October 27, 2017

Eighth Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series: #17 Village of the Damned (1995)

When I first started John Carpenter's 1995 remake (of 1960's) Village of the Damned, I was super-excited:  John Carpenter! Christopher Reeve! Mark Hamill! Kristie Alley!  And then there was some mid-90s/rudimentary CGI fog and sinister whispering sweeping across a northern California coastal town - it was going to be awesome!

Plot in a nutshell:  the tiny town of Midwich, California (population: 2,000; elevation: 33 feet above sea level (although those cliffs are certainly higher than 33 feet)) is a happy place until a weird wave of sinister whispering flows over the town, during its school fair no less.  Everyone in town - people, dogs, cows, parakeets - pass out where they are; one dude has the misfortune to faint onto his gas grill, rendering him as crispy as his hot dogs.  Concerned law enforcement and scientific types hover outside the town line until six hours later when everyone wakes up.  Most are none the worst for wear, other than the grill guy and the few who died in car crashes when they passed out whilst driving.  However, ten women mysteriously catch pregnant (including one high school "virgin" and one lady whose husband has been out of town for the last year).  The babies are all born on the same day (the virgin's baby is stillborn and Kirstie Alley's epidemiologist spirits the tiny corpse away before anyone can see it).  Also, the babies' DNA indicate that they are genetic siblings and as the years pass, these nine platinum blond kids get eviller and eviller.  They use mind control to force people to do things - harm themselves, commit suicide - until the townsfolk are cowed.  One of them, David (a baby Thomas Dekker who has the longest eyelashes ever) is not as mean as the rest, exhibiting some empathy for the scared and sad adults around him.  The government at first studies the evil children to see if they can perhaps be weaponized, but these tiny terrors cannot be controlled.

I give this version of Village of the Damned a solid meh.  It just doesn't feel like a John Carpenter movie:  the Halloweens, The Fog, The Thing (omg I love The Thing), Escape from New York, They Live, Christine ... all far and away better than this flick.  Reviews I read unequivocally prefer the original version.  The acting is decent, Christopher Reeve is very heroic and the idea is great.  It just doesn't seem to be Carpenter's strongest work.
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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Eighth Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series: #16 The Hallow

When Adam, an arborist/forester/biologist/science-y type, is assigned to identify part of an ancient Irish forest can be cut down, he and his young family (wife Clare, baby Finn and good-dog Iggy) are met immediately with a cold reception.  The local townspeople believe that the forest belongs to The Hallow - faeries, banshees, etc. - and that anyone trespassing in the forest will have to answer to those fey folk.  And cutting down the trees is the worst kind of trespassing, obviously.  As Clare busies herself with settling into their amazing old stone farmhouse, including removing all the pesky iron bars that crisscross the windows, Adam, accompanied by baby in backpack and dog, identifies trees to come down.  He finds some weird, oozing black fungus covering a dead deer, organic spikes protruding from the carcass's throat.  Because he's a scientist, he takes a sample home and finds that it is aggressively parasitic, like that zombie ant fungus (Ophiocordyceps).  Well, that doesn't bode well.

Indeed, it doesn't take long before the Hallow come calling, breaking windows, disabling the family car, oozing through ceilings and floors and poking Adam's eye out.  Note to viewers squeamish about eye trauma:  this may not be your favorite movie.  Adam becomes infected/connected to the Hallow (iron burns him, light makes him flinch, he grows spikes, etc.), baby Finn is endangered and there is much yelling and screaming whilst running through the woods once the monsters make themselves known.

I feel more positively about The Hallow than negatively but I didn't love it.  I loved the setting, the practical creature effects (skittering, oozing, very yucky), the body-horror make-up was strong, the cinematography effective.  But at only 1:36, the movie still felt long, especially since I didn't much care about Adam, Clare or the baby  (I did care about Iggy the dog), and once the flaming scythe came into play, I was over it.  Seriously: there is no way that scythe stayed burning for that long.  I think part of my disconnect was also that the film couldn't decide what the monsters were.  Were the monsters really faeries?  If so, what was the point of the sentient fungus?  Was it the fungus (a la Splinter) that turned humans into the Hallow monsters? If so, how did the changeling baby happen?  Either one - faeries or fungus - would have worked but both just seemed a little undecided to me.

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