For some reason this year, Markus and I took longer than normal to head out to the orchards. When we finally made the trek out to Twin Lakes, all the trees were bare and the store was devoid of a single apple. It was kind of sad, but it’s okay because the main reason we drove almost two hours was the apple cider donuts. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take any photos, because we ended up devouring the entire order in minutes. No joke, I would probably drive another two hours to eat those amazing donuts!
Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors - 1987
Surprisingly, this is my first Nightmare on Elm Street movie. From what Markus tells me, this is one of the better films in the franchise, and for those of you that don’t know the lore of Freddy Krueger, I’ll break it down real easy for you. When he was alive, Freddy Krueger was a child murderer and was burned alive by an angry mob of parents who live on Elm Street. They thought that would be the end of Freddy, but in reality it was only the beginning of the nightmare. Freddy becomes a sort of dream demon and begins killing all the children of the Elm Street parents (who burned him alive) in their sleep. This movie picks up the story line from the original Elm Street by reintroducing Nancy, the main protagonist from the first film, who is now on a mission to finally put an end to Freddy’s rein of terror.
Dream Warriors is an interesting movie. I wouldn’t say it’s great but I wouldn’t say it’s awful either. I liked finally seeing Freddy Krueger in action, and there were some really creative death scenes. I also enjoyed how Freddy would take something from your life and twist it into something macabre, just like a true nightmare. He’s definitely a creep, but not as scary as people made him out to be. The scene with his bones being reanimated was a little much and felt very out of place. I mean, how does Freddy even know how to reanimate his bones? And how does he even know where they’re located? I do think that if I watched this movie in the 80s I would’ve been terrified. I mean a guy who can literally murder you in your dreams? That’s pretty clever. Strangely enough, this movie made me want to watch more in the Elm St. series.
The Hunger - 1983
Of all the films on this year’s list, this was the film I was anticipating the most. If you know me, the reason is quite obvious and takes upon the form of the beautiful human, David Bowie. Prior to this year, I never heard of this movie, which seems strange for me since it has ALL the things I like: Bowie, vampires, tragedy and 80s music. It’s like The Hunger was made for me. The film follows an extremely attractive vampire couple, Bowie and Catherine Deneuve as well as a doctor played by Susan Sarandon. At first I thought the film was going to be similar to the 2013 film Only Lovers Left Alive, and boy was I wrong.
So I think that my rating of “so good” is somewhat skewed by a couple things. One being my absolute blind love of Bowie and how extremely attractive he is in the first half of the movie. The other thing is that the first 20 minutes and the last 20 minutes are pretty great. It’s just the in-between that’s mediocre. The pacing is slow and it’s a bit to arthouse for me. Also the director shoots in a very interesting way where the camera is always close to the actors’ faces. It gives off this weird sense of awkwardness, of course that might have been the director’s intention. The cast is pretty great in this, and the makeup and special effects are truly amazing. I mean, they managed to make Bowie unrecognizable, which is hard especially with his unique eyes. The climax and conclusion of the film piqued my interest again, so I felt comfortable enough giving it a tentative “so good,” but with a warning that it might not be for everyone.
The Fly - 1986
As long as I’ve been with Markus, he’s been talking about this movie. I’ve been able to hold out on watching this movie for the past 15 years, but this year was definitely my reckoning. I mean, I’m a huge Jeff Goldblum fan, but even he couldn’t convince me to watch this movie sooner than this year. The Fly was directed by, the brilliant yet disturbing, David Cronenberg — who also directed Scanners and The Brood. I’ve covered both of those films in previous years of Creepy Cinema, and found both to be a little unnerving. And as I expected, this movie was far more than unnerving than the aforementioned films. It was down right nightmarish for me.
I knew that there was going to be some gore and body horror in this film, but still nothing could prepare me for what it actually was. I found The Fly to be somewhat deceptive because the first half appears to be standard 80s horror movie affair. Nothing too awful, just a boy and girl who find themselves drawn to each other, and then an inciting action begins that throws them down a nightmarish path. The film follows excentric scientist, Seth Brundle (Jeff Gloldblum), who performs a series of teleportation experiments. He begins with teleporting inanimate objects from one booth to another. Soon he repeats the experiment with animals and eventually moves on to himself — which was probably the worst idea ever. I will say that the special effects makeup is incredibly well done and strikingly believable. There were a few times where I literally felt a bit nauseous and had to look away. Overall this film is actually great! The acting is top notch, the special effects and makeup are incredible and the story is compelling. It’s just that the body horror was WAY too over the top for me. I can’t envision a scenario where I would willingly rewatch The Fly, but for those of you that like that sort of thing, I recommend this movie. For those that are squeamish, at least give it a try — but then stay far-far away!
The Being - 1983
Markus described this movie to me as pure 80s B movie schlock. So how could I possibly say no to that? The film takes place in a small fictional town in Idaho where the police chief is investigating a string of disappearances and murders. He teams up with a government scientist and they find the cause to be something quite toxic.
As soon as the film started, I got some real Toxic Avenger vibes and was half expecting Toxi to come jumping out. I will say that The Being isn’t as traumatic as Toxic Avenger. I hated that movie so much and it turned me off of Troma films for life. Overall, The Being is a pretty bad movie. It comes across as a film that someone made in high school. The lead character even does some pretty awful voice over narration, completely devoid of emotion. He comes across as awkward and possibly even drunk. The film’s pacing is really slow and takes forever to get to any sort of plot progression. Most of the movie is just random people dying and the main protagonist doing some real leisurely detective work. When you finally reach the climax of the movie you get to see the monster in all his soggy glory, but you’re no longer interested. Even the monster’s death takes forever, and is ultimately mundane at best. I would say this is not even a film that’s so bad it’s good, it’s just bad and I do not recommend it.
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers - 1956
The film follows Dr. Russell Marvin a scientist who oversees Project Skyhook, an American space program that launches satellites into space. Strangely enough this movie reminded me of Independence Day. Both films have multiple alien ships invading earth and stationing themselves in famous cities. The aliens in both movies threaten to take over the planet and kill anyone who tries to stop them.
I really wanted to like this movie and there are definite moments of brilliance, but it just fell flat. The stop motion special effects were the saving grace and the only thing that peaked my interest. That’s not surprising since they were done by stop-motion master, Ray Harryhausen, who is well known for his work on the 1981 film Clash of the Titans. All of the best scenes are of the UFOs flying over different cities. Markus and I were both pretty impressed at how gracefully those scenes have aged. The aliens are pretty interesting, but they’re your standard 50s alien. Unfortunately, I don’t think that the special effects are enough to save this movie. You’re probably just better off watching all the UFO clips on YouTube.
Frankenstein - 1931
Through Creepy Cinema, Markus and I are slowly making our way through the Universal Classic Monster films. So far, I’ve watched Dracula, The Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Invisible Man and remember loving all of them. It’s strange to think that black and white films from the 30s can still be interesting and entertaining, but there’s something magical about the Universal Classic Monsters. It came as no surprise that I also really enjoyed Frankenstein.
I’m sure I don’t have to explain the story of Dr. Frankenstein and the creature that he pieces together and reanimates. It’s a story that’s been done over and over, but it’s nice seeing the original. The real winner of this movie is Colin Clive and Boris Karloff who portray Dr. Frankenstein and Frankenstein’s monster. They were incredibly amazing in their roles and for someone who “just grunts” their way through the film, Karloff is able to bring a some humanity to the creature. At times you really feel sorry for him, because he had a choice in his creation. His whole existence is at the whim of a mad scientist who is obsessed with his work. I really loved the atmospheric vibe of this movie. The sets and costumes are so moody and lush. I’ve seen enough of these older horror movies to be able to identify the good ones and I find that the Universal films have a higher quality with no expense spared.
Ghostbusters 2 - 1989
If you know Markus, you know he is a HUGE Ghostbusters fan. He has heaps of vintage Ghostbusters memorabilia, and even has every version of Egon Spengler from the 80s Kenner toy line. It’s really quite adorable and it’s only natural that we have both movies on VHS. Previously, we watched the first Ghostbusters for Creepy Cinema. We always need a little levity every year, so Markus suggested that we add the sequel this year.
The film is set five years after the first and follows Egon, Ray, Peter and Winston as they navigate life after saving New York City from the demi-god Gozer. You would think that they would be treated as kings, but humanity always has a way of being ungrateful. The guys are forbidden to have anything to do with the supernatural, but of course spooky things always have a way of finding the Ghostbusters. I remember this film from my childhood and it has always been a favorite. I haven’t seen it in ages, but it was nice watching it again, especially on VHS. Usually sequels aren’t as good as the first, but this one was still pretty good. In some ways it was better, like not have to go through the set up and getting straight to the good stuff. Ghostbusters is a classic 80s movie that never gets old and is always fun to watch!
Christine - 1983
It feels like the past few years have seen a surge in all things Stephen King. Not that I’m complaining, if you followed last year, you know I reviewed the new IT and absolutely loved it. A year later, I still love it and wish all scary movies were just as fun. Admittedly, I didn’t know much about Christine, I only knew that it was a about a killer car, so I knew it was going to be interesting. I was also happily pleased to see it was directed and scored by John Carpenter, so I knew it would have a nice synth soundtrack.
The film follows a nerdy kid named Arnie who is bullied in all aspects of his life. His only reprieve is when he’s with his best friend and jock, Dennis. Arnie becomes obsessed with restoring an old junky car to it’s former beauty which is named Christine. After Christine is restored, strange and deadly things start to happen to people in Arnie’s life. I was hesitant to give Christine a “So good” rating, but I also don’t think it warranted an “It’s aight.” I like the premise of a possessed car terrorizing people in the name of a bullied teen, but there were some things that I couldn’t look past. The pace of the movie is quite slow and the storytelling is quite disjointed as it goes back and forth between Arnie and Dennis. We don’t even see Dennis for most of the second act. I did love the soundtrack, the premise and of course Christine, who is one cool car. Overall, it wasn’t a perfect film, but it was definitely an enjoyable ride!
Wishmaster - 1997
I knew nothing about Wishmaster before we added it to the list this year. Judging from the title, I assumed it had something to do with wishes going wrong and I was totally right! The story begins in an ancient Persian palace, where a king’s wish goes horribly wrong because of and evil djinn (genie). The djinn wreaks havoc on a huge celebration, and what ensues is the stuff of nightmares. Extreme body trauma, people turning into giant snakes, and monsters galore. However the king’s alchemist stops the djinn by trapping him in a jewel. We then jump forward in time to the present day (the late 90s), where the djinn manages to break lose and wreak havoc on humanity once again. This time he specifically preys upon the main character, a woman named Alex.
I really enjoyed this movie and thought it was really well done. Also adding to the fun of this movie, there were tons of little cameos from iconic horror actors, like Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger), Tony Todd (Candyman) and horror special effects wiz Tom Savini. Since I’ve been doing this for six years, it’s actually quite fun being able to pick out these people. However the real star of this movie is the Wishmaster himself, played by Andrew Divoff. He was phenomenal as an evil djinn, and was probably one of the best and most unique villains I’ve seen in a long time. Every time he was on screen, my eyes were drawn to him. The way he spoke and the intenseness of his gaze was really captivating. All the other characters were just filler until he returned on screen. In fact he was so good, that I’m interested in seeing him in other films. He’s a real Jeffrey Combs in my eyes. I cannot recommend this movie enough, even if it’s just to see Divoff portray a deranged djinn in a movie bookended by great special effects horror.
As you probably already know, October is a special month in the Cruz House. Markus and I count the days until we can cover the house with vintage Halloween blow molds and other bric-a-brac. Last year, I shared how we decorated our old apartment, but we’ve since moved to a fantastic new apartment. We had to get rid of a lot of furniture and bookcases to make the most of space in the new place. Since our setup changed drastically, Markus and I couldn’t wait to bring out all the decorations. I think it was a success because it looks even better than last year. My favorite is still the vintage Ben Cooper masks over my oil portrait collection. That was a stroke of pure genius from Markus! I absolutely adore how it all looks with the new furniture and how it fits perfectly with the new space. I love it so much that I wish I could keep the decorations up year round.