The Post - Steven Spielberg
If there's one thing I love, it’s awards season, when I can boast about my superior taste in film and how I don’t agree with any of it to all my family and friends.
In all seriousness, awards season sheds light on movies that either show real promise or put the spotlight on titles that wouldn’t otherwise find the mass appeal they deserve on its own. The Post is a great example of the former, considering the current tension between the public and the media.
In the early 70s, amid the United States’ involvement in Vietnam, a study was conducted from the ground on the progress of the conflict in the east. When the author of this study saw how the United States government was lying to its people and sending soldiers into a failing conflict, they made the decision to leak the four thousand pages of the study to the New York Times. This collective document was dubbed “the Pentagon Papers,” and was published at a time of financial crisis for the Washington Post; on top of that, they were in competition with the New York Times and facing legal action from the Nixon administration.
Spielberg has a tendency to make light of pivotal moments and tremendous stakes. For instance, Bridge of Spies used Tom Hanks’ charm and injected off-handed humor that diluted the tension of delicate U.S.-Soviet relations, despite being a decently-made picture otherwise. The Post does something similar with its sticky situation, although I was more often than not reminded of Snowden in the way Spielberg takes dramatic liberties for the sake of broad appeal. The story can stand on its own legs just fine without these kinds of gestures. For example: there are plenty of great examples of strong women in film, like Rey from Star Wars, or more recently, the excellent Frances McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri. Both characters shows their strength and capability without extra work from their respective filmmakers. In The Post, there are moments when Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) takes walks proudly through women, and is commented on by other characters chime for verbally cutting a man down. These don’t feel like character moments as much as they feel like weak attempts to absolve the filmmakers of some imagined bias. What I will give Spielberg credit for is showing Graham’s personal growth. In the beginning, she lacks the confidence to say her rehearsed lines in a board meeting; by the end, she is making decisions she knows could land her and her team in jail.
The Post is a good film with big stars playing comfortable roles. Hanks in a supporting role doesn’t affect his performance, even if the character of Ben is often flat. Spielberg’s structural competency and shooting technique are wonderfully cinematic. As long as you watch the film as just that--a film--and not as a political statement, it has the potential to be the rare crowd-pleaser that also enlightens its audience to what goes on, and what should go on, behind that anonymous, catch-all term “the media.” It’s a reminder that the press shouldn’t work for the respect of the government, but to honestly inform the people, as a part of the many checks and balances present in our society.
But The Post is safe. It could have been scathing, it could have been revelatory, but it chooses instead to tell a story tailored to fit into the template of boilerplate social commentary we’ve seen since November 2016. I want to love it. I really do. A film about a government lying to the country and news outlets telling the hard and painful truth deserves more than being a podium for partisan bickery. But I believe that this really comes down to Spielberg realizing that he’s at his best making fun Hollywood blockbusters and not political statements Films like this are reason to question whether best films are behind him. How it’ll fair with the Oscars is up in the air. It may have gotten the nominations during the Golden Globes, but didn’t pick up a single win, and given the other hopefuls this year, I doubt the Oscars will be any different.
- Alex B.
Stranger Things 2 - Duffer Brothers
Last year, Stranger Things took the title of “most bingable Netflix original.” The ’80s drenched X Files-infused marathon of The Goonies made for a fun time and instantaneously spawned massive fandom. I pointed out in July of last year that, for all its entertainment value, there were still rough corners that only became more prevalent upon second viewing. Everyone's favorite D&D players weren’t as nicely fleshed out as some supporting characters, and the show feels more like a composite of pieces from other, better-known properties than a thoughtful blending of them. Regardless, that didn’t stop the second season of Stranger Things from being the most anticipated season of the year for most audiences.
Of course, spoilers for season 1 ahead. Season 2 spoilers will be separated from the general discussion.
The demigorgan is dead, Eleven is missing, Will is saved but he can see into the Upside Down, and coughed up some interdimensional slug. After almost a year from those events, Will’s visions are getting progressively worse: he’s now seeing a massive, tentacled entity, visible in the trailers for the season. As part of a deal made between the Byers and the shadowy institution behind the events of season 1, Will is brought into Hawkins Lab for various regular check-up. Despite the prying of his doctors, Will’s visions are swept under the rug. Meanwhile, Eleven finds her way back to Hawkins and, by chance, runs into Hopper, who shelters her in a secluded cabin for her protection. Mike and the gang induct a new member, Maxine (or “Madmax”), but her older brother proves to be a problem. Dustin finds the interdimensional slug, which is rapidly developing into something else. There's a lot, I know. It's not super elegant.
My time with this season feels like a third viewing of season 1. Once again, the show is entertaining, but the more I watch, the more the show’s flaws bubble to the surface. First, the positives: the banter between Mike, Dustin, Luke, and Will is just as light and fun as ever. I feared the dynamic would shift with the return of Will, but he’s mostly a quiet, fearful, blank slate. What makes this corner of the narrative a little more interesting is the introduction of Bob (Sean Astin), Joyce’s new boyfriend. Hes mostly a one-dimensional techie goober, but he has a few moments that will remind any tech-geek of themselves, making him somewhat more relatable than your average newcomer. It's just a shame he doesn’t have more screen time. Nancy, Steve, and even Jonathan mostly carry on their young adult love triangle from season 1, which ended with Nancy back with Steve. It's hard to justify this storyline since it boils down to fanservice in response to the unexpected reception to Barb last season. At the end of the day, it has no impact on the big picture.
One of the things I’m truly happy about this season is the Joyce and Hopper’s partnership. Their friendship is mostly the unspoken comfort they find in each other after having been through the shit. With that being said, the challenge that both characters face together are exactly the same as the previous season, and there's still a bit of unnecessary nativity just to play the audience. But Hopper now has to look after Eleven, which proves multiple times that things aren’t quite perfect. Eleven wants to return to Mike and the gang, Hopper doesn’t want Hawkins to pick her up again. He sees a bit of his daughter in her. As it is with this show, what could have had a beefy relationship is instead reduced to thin, surface level functionality.
Mechanically, this season is not up to the quality of the first season. The writer's hand is always visible, as every reveal is accompanied by multiple, frequent flashbacks connecting the dots for the lowest common denominator. Sometimes, it’s insulting. Yes, Duffer Brothers; I understand the slug that Dustin finds is much like the one Will coughs up. You don’t need to do multiple eye-line matches of Will looking worried, play overly-suggestive music, and try graphic matching it all. It doesn’t look good. It also seems as if the show hasn’t learned from the past year of horror, as it features an overabundance of easy jump scares and false scares. While present in the first season, they were not this cheap or numerous--I found myself progressively more annoyed every time someone touched someone's shoulder from off-screen and we have to hear that stock metal bang again.
Since it became the most divisive part the season, let's start with episode 7. Having seen a majority of diehard fans revolting against the episode, I was worried going in, but was surprised to see that it acts like the rest of the series, only with an overt fish-out-of-water story. It has the same strengths and weaknesses as any other episode this season, but the overriding fact is that it's ultimately a useless episode. It does three things: we’re shown Eleven harnessing her powers, with a scene more than a touch reminiscent of Yoda training Luke to lift an X-Wing with the Force. The problem is that we’ve already seen her do incredible things, many in high-pressure situations, but many more in moments of calm. The next is the moral hurdle she encounters facing a man who destroyed her mother's life. Eleven is ready to kill this man until she sees he has a family. So what does that mean for the people she killed in season one? She also had a moment in season one when she used her powers to separate Lucas and Mike in the midst of a fight, and even, then she showed instant regret. The last part is really a matter of personal taste, but why do we need to explore everything about Eleven’s past? We got what we needed last season, and what we get here is forced story. Eleven sees more than one kid in the rainbow room, so why does she go to Eight and call her sister? It seems unnecessary.
The last thing I want to talk about is the part that made me throw up my hands. From the season premiere, we are told that the main antagonist is the shadow monster, a hulking beast capable of devouring a town. It looms over every bit of promotional material. While it’s possession of Will is an interesting spin and makes for some entertaining sequences, the twenty minutes Eleven holds it off virtually on her own makes me question if this entire struggle is necessary. Look what changed from the beginning to the end. The gateway is closed. Eleven is reunited with the group. Nancy is with Jonathan. Steve is now the best babysitter. Bob is dead. At best, the shadow monster has only been temporarily delayed. I feel that the season almost invalidated itself in those last minutes, and Will’s struggle is now in vain.
I think down the road, this season will occupy the same space as season two of Mr. Robot. It’ll be referred to as the filler season, but at the very least, Mr. Robot had real character progression. I don’t see a lot of that here, outside of Steve, who isn’t all that important when all’s said and done. It’s entertaining to serve the lowest common denominator, and if you’re just looking for a show to veg out to, Stranger Things 2 is perfect. But if you want something with a little more quality, or even something closer to the first season, I’m sorry.
- Alex B.
Well, it’s Halloween!
This is the end of Metal Lifestyle’s 31 Nights of Horror, and we thank each and every one of you that’s taken the time to read or take our suggestions and add one of our recommendations to your watch list, and hope you have a blast tonight (or this weekend). I tinkered for some time with this entry, unsure of how I wanted to cap our first annual 31 Nights of Horror. Michael Myers is the once and future king of Halloween, and the Sanderson Sisters its queens; and while I doubt that will change anytime soon, that’s not to say it won’t ever change. Since 2007, Michael Doughtery’s Trick 'r' Treat has developed a cult following and snowballed--at least in my opinion--into the other must-see Halloween movie.
It’s an anthology movie of several interlinked stories told on a cleverly staggered timeline. In order of appearance rather than occurrence (a big part of the movie’s appeal is untangling all the narrative threads), these stories are: a couple returning from the night’s festivities; a principal with a dark secret; a virgin and her not-so-virgin friends on their way to a Halloween party in the woods; a group of kids collecting jack-o-lanterns; a vampire on the loose; and a stodgy old man drinking his way through the night. The common thread? A mysterious, sack-headed little figure named Sam.
Trick 'r' Treat’s festive atmosphere, braided narrative, and relatively brief 86 minute runtime makes it an easily-digestible movie with seemingly endless replay value. Every frame is packed with detail, and there are enough little nods, gestures, and clues to keep you entertained for hours. Above all, it’s the movie’s holiday spirit, somewhere between the autumnal chilliness of Carpenter’s Halloween and the silliness of Hocus Pocus, that makes it both a perfect bridge between the two and--arguably--the best of both worlds.
Happy Halloween from all of us at Metal Lifestyle!
I told you we’d come back to Australia to visit Sean Byrne one last time, and here we are: seven long years after making a splash with The Loved Ones, Byrne is back in his element with The Devil’s Candy, the movie Deathgasm can only dream of being. Yeah, it’s not good form to praise one movie by trashing another, but give The Devil’s Candy a watch and see for yourself the level this movie is operating on compared to Deathgasm.
A deftly-wrought horror movie, The Devil’s Candy is built on the complicated dynamics of a family that isn’t just a main character and kill fodder: protagonist Jesse Hellman (Ethan Embry, Late Phases) is both a father and an artist, struggling to balance his creative passions with the need for financial security and his family’s well-being, which means he sometimes has to paint butterfly murals for local banks, and sometimes can’t be there for his wife and daughter, Astrid (Shiri Appleby) and Zooey (the wonderful Kiara Glasco), who love him almost as much as he loves them. The Devil’s Candy, like Deathgasm, is a movie by metalheads, ostensibly for metalheads; but it’s clear from the posters in Zooey’s room and the stickers on Jesse’s car that Byrne knows his stuff far better than Deathgasm’s creators. His love for the genre doesn’t go unappreciated at Metal Lifestyle, and neither do those Cult Leader and Young and in the Way stickers on the back windshield of Jesse’s car. Most importantly, his characters aren’t completely defined by their music choices--it’s the family’s relationships to one another that define the movie and give it its beating heart, one that will weather a lot before all the supernatural maliciousness of their suspiciously dirt-cheap new home is through.
Sure, “new family moves into old house with a dark secret” is a familiar enough premise to warrant some skepticism, but The Devil’s Candy is one of those rare movies that truly upends old formulas in the spirit of his first feature The Loved Ones, blazing new trails in the pursuit of great modern horror. It movie carries absolutely no fat on its lean 79-minute body, cutting all the repetitive haunted-house and possession tropes to focus on its people, so that when the horror kicks into high-gear in the third act, the danger hits like an axe to the chest. Effortlessly balancing its dramatic weight on a tightrope of hardcore horror and light goofball comedy, The Devil’s Candy is unlike any horror movie this year, and is therefore unquestionably one of the year’s best.
Plenty of horror movies can be described as “nightmarish,” and plenty evoke the sense of non-sequiturial unease we feel in our strangest nightmares; and while there’s an entire history of surrealist and expressionist film dating back well before it’s time, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that recent weirdness like We Are the Flesh wouldn’t exist, or be half as potent, without Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm.
Blending comedy and horror under the umbrella of uniquely dreamlike mood, Phantasm pits a boy, his older brother, and his uncle against a supernatural mortician known as The Tall Man (played by the late Angus Scrimm) and his hordes of cloaked dwarves. Even a shoestring budget and the limited acting abilities of its cast can’t get in the way of Coscarelli’s singularly weird imagination, or Mr. Scrimm: with his bulldog face, imposing height, and a gravelly, authoritarian voice, he’s an instant horror icon from the moment he locks eyes with protagonist Mike Pearson (A. Michael Baldwin) from across the street, through a cloud of vapor from a nearby ice cream cart. And like every good horror icon, he has a signature weapon: his flying death balls. These shiny, silver, blade-equipped orbs whizz through the air to latch onto the faces of the Tall Man’s enemies, and while they’re used less sparingly in future Phantasm installments (oh yeah, it’s a franchise), there’s nothing quite like that first death-by-ball. Nothing at all.
Phantasm recently got a full 4K blu-ray restoration overseen by none other than J.J. Abrams, if you needed anymore proof of the legacy of this underground horror gem. No shelling out for overpriced bootleg DVDs or scrounging around pawn shops in hopes of a lucky find--Phantasm is more widely-available than it ever has been before, and looks the best it ever will, so go watch it!
South Korea should be the first place you look for new and engaging horror. If I Saw the Devil didn’t do it for you, 2016’s The Wailing is an even more sprawling and absorbing movie from the director of The Chaser that made waves on its debut, quickly becoming one of the most profitable movies to come out of South Korea in a long time. While we know sales don’t always equate to quality, The Wailing is the real deal: a true epic of the genre, it’s a monster of a picture with a long, long shadow.
Big things start small: The Wailing initially passes itself off as a police procedural, following an officer’s investigation into a series of criminal activity in and around the village he polices, but this is only as the foundation on which the movie will pile its layers of intrigue. It’s cornerstone, and initiating event, is the arrival of Japanese stranger who gains the immediate distrust of his neighbors in the village. The Wailing doesn’t rush its plot points, so its first third of will test the patience of certain viewers as it stacks its pieces; but rest assured, the movie’s Jenga tower of homicides, ghosts, and inexplicable illnesses will mount into a fearsome horror movie before a jaw-dropping South Korean exorcism (that has to be seen to be believed) collapses the movie into a Rubix cube of ever-shifting parts, resolving as much as it complicates, shuffling up tones and tropes until whatever you imagined this movie would be seems like a grievous mistake, and whatever you want it to be doesn’t matter. It will suck you down and hold you there.
Every minute of The Wailing’s five-year gestation period is up on the screen. Nothing that happens or is said wasn’t carefully weighed and considered. Nothing was left in that didn’t need to be there over the course of the movie’s two hour and thirty-six minute runtime. There are no loose ends; and while there is some sag in the middle, it’s more like the slack of a tripwire than any misstep in the narrative--because the moment the movie enters its final act, it will close on you like a steel trap. You don’t just walk away from this movie. It sticks.
Although it’s now receiving the accolades it deserved all along, John Carpenter’s Apocalypse Trilogy--The Thing, Prince of Darkness, and In the Mouth of Madness--has been through some rough times. Part of the blame rests with The Thing, a critical darling and, to be fair, one of the greatest horror movies ever produced, remake or not. It’s a bonafide classic, with all the hallmarks of a classic; and whether the technical aspects of Prince of Darkness and In the Mouth of Madness measure up to it or not, it can’t be denied that all three movies are pieces of a singular vision, one that owes as much to H.P. Lovecraft as it does to the westerns John Carpenter so loves to emulate, and whose mix of Wild West grit and gooey existential horror even feels, at times, like a spiritual ancestor to Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.
Prince of Darkness is at once the silliest and most mysterious entry in the trilogy, and far more deserving of praise than its reputation suggests. Whether or not Carpenter knows what he wanted to say or do with its witches’ brew of theology, mathematics, and eschatology, it’s a novel and absorbing concoction only let down only by tough sell of a plot--although, amid the movie’s aura of intrigue and those ominous synth-strikes on the score, its outlandishness doesn’t really set in until after that haunting final shot. Prince of Darkness is the story of a group of university students brought together to study and decipher a series of mathematical and audiovisual phenomena occurring at a local church. These phenomena, we discover soon enough, are caused by a glowing green canister in the basement of the church. This canister is...Satan.
Carpenter never directly adapted Lovecraft, which is a shame: he nails the point of his fiction that we discussed back in Re-Animator. Prince of Darkness isn’t out to make us afraid of some green slime--the horror comes from its dramatic reframing of Genesis, positing that Jesus Christ and Satan were aliens, creatures of unknown origin whose feud defined our evolution, but wasn’t necessarily intended to (sound familiar?). It implies our existence is accidental, trivial, and unimportant, which is a horrifying prospect all on its own. It doesn’t need recurring dreams, body horror, or Alice Cooper as the leader of the horde of zombie-like Satan-worshippers that surround the church as night falls--but they certainly don’t hurt!
Mindhunter - David Fincher
There's something about a Fincher movie that's intoxicating to watch. Is it his meticulous directing that seems to capture every detail with ease? How his perfect camera movements that seem to hijack your eyes? Or is it just his understanding of his audience? It could be any one of them or none, but his work has such an impact on both ends of the audience spectrum. Without fail, Fincher will focus his efforts into something that takes him years and delivers a product that will floor critics and general audiences. I personally find Zodiac to be his best work, and it even crept up my favorite films of all time, ranking second. It’s a film that fuses slasher-style horror and police procedural, all while exploring how obsession can affect even the strongest will. By proxy, the actual case becomes as fascinating as the film and can drive you to your own little investigation. When word came through the grapevine that Fincher would be returning to the realm of serial killers and crime drama, every other season premiering this year went on the backburner. Sorry Mr. Robot, Stranger Things, Shameless, and final season of Halt and Catch Fire: there was never any winning this fight.
In the climate that arose following the Charles Manson murders, and other perplexingly heinous crimes, the FBI who observed these monsters through the lens of their classical understanding of criminality were dumbfounded. Special Agent Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff), a greenhorn hostage negotiator, sees the flawed system and sets out to understand the psychology of these individuals in hopes of uncovering their hidden motives ,or even commonalities that might help identify perpetrators in dead-end cases. The study leads him to Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) from the Behavioral Science Unit at the Bureau, and the two travel the country teaching local law enforcement about profiling. These visits sometimes gets them involved in local cases, and later helps facilitate interviews with high-profile killers.
This show is not for the faint-hearted. The investigations may not always be explicitly graphic, but the interviews can get under the skin of even seasoned viewers. Listening to someone like Edmund Kemper eloquently recount the murder of his mother will chill you to the bone. In those moments, it doesn’t feel like peering into the mind of a madman, but assuming his position. Much like the 1983 film Angst, the unfiltered monologue reaches beyond Holden and Bill to grasp the audience’s hand for the journey. The disturbing nature of these interviews may turn some viewers away; I have no doubt about it, and I wouldn’t argue. What certainly adds to the effect is Fincher’s preference for unflinching camera work, and the dichotomy between Holden and Bill. Bill is a grizzled, hardened agent that seems to embody the classical philosophies of the Bureau, while Holden is shockingly open-minded. Learning about these people disconcertingly flips a switch in him; he becomes apathetic or perverse in response to their stories, baiting and provoking interviewees into opening up. Mindhunter is all about interactions between people and their stories, which make it more compelling than most procedurals: there isn’t a DNA test or a call for forensic evidence in sight.
The cast is well rounded, and while the majority are typecast, they deliver good performances--at worst, serviceable. It’s questionable where Groff, who plays Holden, falls on that spectrum. Whether it's the actor or how the character is written, this character seems to broadcast some mixed messages. Constant exposure to these kinds of people certainly takes a toll on Holden throughout the season, but his transformation is spotty, and unnaturally fast. Taking a quick look at a confrontation late in the season, Holden is visited by the wife of a man whose life was destroyed following Holden’s involvement. There is clearly shock and regret in his eyes, but immediately after, he brushes it off as nothing. There may be an argument that this transition from false remorse to dismissal is simply a side effect of the job, but it’s an angle that I’m still grappling with.
There are a few other issues that boil down to creative choices that Fincher may have delegated since he’s never worked on a full-length series before. Even though Fincher personally directs most of the season, the others are clearly do their best to replicate his work; and although they were probably working closely with Fincher, things still fall through the cracks. There are some brief moments of tonal clash, mainly with scene changes and transitions between cuts. They feel unexpectedly light. It's a tightrope walk, as evident when you compare Mindhunter to Zodiac, whose lighter moments never feel out of place. Lastly, there's the giant bold text that covers the screen for many major city changes. Just making the text smaller so the viewer can see what's going on in the moment would be an improvement, but the text also appears when we return to cities whose significance we’ve already established and recognize. The text is unnecessary in those moments. Nitpicky, I know, but it’s Fincher’s attention to detail that lends his work such extraordinary elegance.
The buzz surrounding Mindhunter is louder than it was for Zodiac, and while there's a lot to compare, I don’t think it approaches the greatness of Zodiac. That being said, it is undoubtedly the movie’s spiritual cousin and shares some of its atmosphere. While you may need to take a breather after a few episodes, the show is still bingeable, and if push comes to shove, there are logical breaks that let you off the hook if you can’t watch another episode immediately (*cough* Stranger Things *cough*). It's more proof that Fincher can really do no wrong, even working in an unfamiliar format.
- Alex B.
Yet another slice of Kiwi goodness, Braindead (more tamely retitled Dead Alive, thanks to some rights issues) is an insane piece of horror filmmaking from the suburbs of New Zealand. Let me emphasize the “insane” bit: this is not a movie for fans of understated haunted house flicks or traditional ghosts and under-the-skin fare. Braindead is a geyser of viscera and mayhem that is constantly and rapidly topping itself with scene after scene of gore and mayhem, and is about as politically incorrect as horror movies can get without getting maliciously crass. Give it about twenty minutes and you’ll see why this is such a feat.
Braindead begins with a cold-open in the canyons of Skull Island, where the mythical (and, indeed, fictional) Sumatran rat-monkey has been tracked down and caught for the first time. It is shipped away to be displayed in a zoo. A stop-motion animated atrocity that probably didn’t look any good then, the rat-monkey is where some viewers will jump off. Those that stick around will be rewarded with Lionel (Timothy Balme). He’s a teenager, who looks more like twentysomething, smitten with Paquita Maria Sanchez, a local shopkeeper’s daughter, but he is unable to so much as ask her on a date thanks to his domineering mother (Elizabeth Moody). The two plotlines intersect when Lionel asks her anyway, and the two head to the local zoo, where Lionel’s mother follows them to spy. She strays a little too close to the rat-monkey exhibit and is bitten, setting off a chain of events that just has to be seen to be believed.
I cannot stress the insanity of this movie enough, but suffice to say that you’re going to see at least one sequence you never thought possible. There are some familiar ideas, like ominous tarot readings, midnight cemeteries, and zombies, thrown into the mix; but they’re nothing compared to the dinner scene, the priest, the animal stimulants, the baby stroller, and the siege of Lionel’s mother’s Victorian mansion, where all bets are definitively off and someone sentient intestines admire themselves in a mirror. Does that sound like I just spoiled a major surprise? I haven’t. There’s so much going on by that point, and so much still to happen, that you’ll probably forget all about it.
Braindead takes the cake as the most over-the-top movie I’ve seen, like The Evil Dead movies gassed silly with the jenkem of Hausu and Happiness of the Katakuris. It’s also unquestionably the goriest movie I’ve ever seen, even accounting for Aftermath and Inside (A’linterieur)--so if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to go on a drug-fueled killing spree with, say, a lawnmower, this is your perfect simulation.
And who, you might be wondering, directed this still-banned-in-several-countries movie?
Peter "Lord of the Rings" Jackson.
Night of the Demons is a treasure. Specifically, buried treasure--it’s another entry in the long line of ’80s horror movies about teens getting their comeuppance when they take the party to a haunted locale, but all the elements that would normally come into question for critical analysis are just dressing with this movie. The real attraction is its unabashed Halloween spirit, a holiday gusto that surges out of the screen from the opening credits: an animated sequence like something out of Scooby-Doo without the Mystery Gang. The cast are Cabin in the Woods archetypes all, their unique traits and differences are mapped out in no uncertain terms. They’re preparing for a night at Hull House, an abandoned and supposedly haunted mortuary that was the site of a grisly murder-suicide, and….
We know this drill. The movie really get started when an invisible spirit zooms, Evil Dead-POV style, out of the basement furnace and up the stairs, hauling us from one Halloween-drenched sequence to the next, dropping one-liners left and right--“Eat a bowl of fuck!” being only one of the movie’s many choice selections of dialogue--and images you couldn’t erase with a brand. There’s ’80s horror legend Linnea Quigley bending down to grab some dropped candy; a strobe-light dance sequence with legendary Goth-chick-turned-flesh-craving-demon Angela, whose visage adorns the movie’s famous original poster art; and, of course, the disappearing lipstick. You’ll know it when you see it. There’s also a perfectly macabre little subplot involving an old couple and their mismatched outlooks on Halloween, culminating in a sharp satire of a certain holiday myth.
Night of the Demons is a blast. You can smell the rotting pumpkin guts and taste the chocolate smeared across the script, and for once, its sequel is equally inspired despite a new director and slightly different writers--so feel free to extend your stay at Hull House a little while more, if so inclined. “Happy Halloween, dear!”
"Curtains" is where you can catch movie reviews by the Metal Lifestyle staff.