Starring Ellie Cornell, Donald Pleasence, Danielle Harris, Beau Starr, and George P. Wilbur
Directed by Dwight H. Little
Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment
I’ll never forget sitting in a darkened theatre way back around 1987 or so when it came on. The screen was dark except for a crawl of white letters going up the screen not unlike the opening of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. A man with a really sinister voice narrated. Everyone was enthralled. “Ten years ago, on the night of October 31st, a small Midwestern town fell victim to an escaped killer. Under the cover of darkness he carried out the most horrifying mass murder on record. Sixteen people killed in cold blood. Ever since that night, no one has forgotten his name . . . and Halloween has never been the same.” The music started and the crowd went absolutely fucking nuts. After nearly ten years, one of our favorite movie characters of all time was making his return to the big screen. To say fans were counting the days is an understatement. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers met with great success upon its release, becoming the number one film in the nation for two straight weeks.
The story was relatively simple. Michael awakens from a comatose state to find himself being transported via ambulance to another holding facility. One quick thumb insertion to the head of a paramedic, and The Shape was on the loose once again with the legendary Dr. Sam Loomis (Pleasence) not far behind. This time his victim of choice (because lord knows Michael has some serious family issues) is the daughter of his supposedly dead sister, Jamie Lloyd (Harris).
While Halloween 4 was a welcome return for our favorite white masked man, it did have a few problems. For one — the editing. There are a few things in this film that just don’t make any sense. Such as the lack of reaction by some of the people in the back of the speeding pick-up truck to Michael going on a stabbing spree less than a foot away. You would think a few of them would have at least turned around to see what the commotion was. Another nagging thing is the old mask switcheroo that goes on during the schoolhouse sequence. Michael’s hair goes from brown to white in one scene. It’s completely distracting. According to McElroy’s commentary, the white hair thing was because they tried using the original mask from the first two Halloweens, and for whatever reason the hair had turned white. Well then, why bother? While these do indeed sound like minor issues, it bothers me to think how easily they could have been fixed. Especially the hair issue. Hell, why was there even a mask with the wrong colored hair on the set? This may remain one of life’s little mysteries. As fans of the series we wanted everything to be perfect. Instead it was just adequate.
A lot of you own this film on DVD already, so I know that you’re wondering just why in the world you should double dip for this edition. For one thing there’s the Divimax transfer. For those of you out there that don’t know what that means, it’s pretty simple. Divimax DVD’s are mastered in extremely high definition, giving the picture a really high quality appearance. Halloween 4 has never looked better. But is that it? No.
In addition, the Halloween 4 and 5 panel from the Return to Haddonfield convention is there for you rabid fans, but even that is not the reason to buy this edition. You will want this DVD for one reason: The commentaries. First up are stars Ellie Cornell and Danielle Harris. Even after all these years they still have a kind of sisterly vibe to their relationship, and it is communicated through this first commentary track perfectly. As good as that track is, the money shot is the one with writer Alan B. McElroy. Alan is an engaging guy. Throughout the commentary he points out all of the things that were changed from his original vision. Additions, subtractions, and changes are all discussed in detail; and I have to say, if they would have left in the majority of the things Alan had originally written, I think we would have come away with a bit of a better film.
Returning features from the original disc include a 17-minute behind-the-scenes featurette called The Making of Halloween 4: The Final Cut and of course the trailer. All in all this is a much superior package, so if you’re a fan, you may wanna be trading in your old disc to the used DVD store.
Michael’s return was something genre fan’s clamoured for ever since The Shape went up in flames at the end of Halloween II. Anchor Bay has given us another gift. Even though the movie is just OK by many standards, it is cool that it is finally getting the definitive DVD release Halloween historians have been waiting for. Color me happy to double dip.
Audio commentary with actors Ellie Cornell and Danielle Harris
Audio commentary with writer Alan B. McElroy
Halloween 4 and 5 discussion panel
The Making of Halloween 4: The Final Cut featurette
4 out of 5
American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review
Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo
Directed by Colin Bemis
Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.
The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.
As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!
Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.
Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.
In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.
On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.
In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.
Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)
We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.
In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.
Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!
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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View
Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly
Directed by Marcel Sarmiento
Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as
17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?
What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.
Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?
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