Thursday, September 29, 2016

Kenny & Co. The film that inspired Phantasm.

Kenny & Co. The film that inspired Phantasm.
PLOT - The adventures of Kenny, a young 12 year old boy who lives in a small suburban neighborhood in California just a few days before Halloween. In these up coming days Kenny has his first encounters with love, loss, and finally standing up for what he believes. 

LOWDOWN -  Back in 2008 after years of waiting (why I honestly have no idea) I FINALLY got around to watching the epic series otherwise known as Phantasm. For years I owned the sequel Phantasm II and always highly enjoyed it even though I had never seen the original or the sequels that followed. One day it was on cable and I dusted off my old VHS copy. Deciding to say what the hell, I went out and bought part 1, 3, and 4 and sat down one afternoon trying to wrap my mind about what these beautifully shot movies were about. In the end part II ended up being my least favorite and the Phantasm movies became a huge epic in my eyes that soon climbed my top five list. Soon after I began to do my research when it came to what other films Don Coscarelli directed. I of course adored the Phantasm movies which I still say I view as one giant movie. 

As I dug up his other great films like the amazing Bubba Ho Tep, and stumbled upon a film he made before Phantasm. A film which was really his second venture into filmmaking after Jim The World Greatest. This was a 1970's children's movie with a great dry ahead of it's time semi-adult like sense of humor. A tender coming of age movies that was oozing from the decade it was released in. Right when skateboarding was truly just coming onto the scene, this was a film that highlighted and showcased this new sport. 

With players that later on went on to star in Phantasm such as Reggie Bannister, and A. Michael Baldwin. This film was filled with a great cast, most of which came from the three young leads that truly showed what a much simpler time this decade was for children who were carefree, and some what innocent. I love the scene where Sherman explains to Doug and Kenny where babies come from. This is a movie I was able to snag on DVD and is a favorite of mine to watch before Halloween. Here we watch a 12 year old boy in his daily life. The film is filled with memorable moments, one of my favorites when the foreign exchange student learns the word "asshole" and keeps repeating it. The look on Reggie Bannister's face in this scene is priceless. Or when he gives the speech about checking candy before trick or treating and Doug's reaction.

I love the simple little scenes of these boys living in beautiful California and how back then it was perfectly normal to watch the local muscle head work out, or combine all of the sodas to make a really gross looking drink. Like I said, this movie is simple, but a feel good film. It features tender moments, and scene many of its might actually relate to when it comes to our own childhood. What I liked with what Don Coscarelli did was he addressed real issues such as the fear of death and loss, or how innocent a crush can be and the heart break when someone doesn't feel the same way.  Little things like Kenny speaking with the older man, the boys witnessing the graphic car accident, or the little things like Doug living with a single parent. This is a movie honestly for anyone but a film I would allow a ten year old to watch. It's cute, funny, and truly a fun watch. I guess this film was HUGE in Japan, like crazy HUGE. Go figure, kids on skateboards... 

What I love about this film mostly is the fact it all takes place days before Halloween. Here we get to see the boys making their costumes, carving pumpkins, and after a wonderful very cheesy skateboard montage get to see thousands of them for sale (in California huh?) But for Mr. Coscarelli he knew he was onto something when he watched this film in theaters with an audience. In the scene where the boys are dressed up trick or treating (love the earlier scene of them making the dummy and leaving it in the road. See guys, before I-phones and computers you did dumb wonderful shit like this.) the kids go into a garage which is all dressed up as a haunted house and somebody jumps out at them. Well this pop out got a huge reaction and once Don saw the audience going crazy he wondered if he made a whole movie full of pop outs, and scares which of course later became Phantasm.

Here he took A. Michael Baldwin the highly talented child star and went to work less than a year later. Thanks to this wonderful fun little kid movie we now have one of the greatest horror series of all time. Thank you Kenny and Company. Thanks to you we can witness yet another amazing Phantasm movie!

4 1/2 stars!

Top pieces of Phantasm artwork

 Top pieces of Phantasm artwork.
One of my all time favorite posters is hands down the one for Phantasm. Sadly the beautiful artwork really wasn't captured again with the other installments. This poster perfectly captures the surreal dreamlike movie that Phantasm is. It honestly seems like some strange living breathing piece of artwork. Here are several of my favorite pieces of artwork based off the original film.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Phantasm themed cocktails!!!

 Phantasm themed cocktails!!!
One of my all time favorite memories years ago when I was living at school was a super sloppy Phantasm drinking game me and a few buddies played. It. was. bad. I'm talking gin and ginger ale bad. I'm talking stopping mid way to stumble down the street to the local soda machine outside the sketchy dollar store to get 7 Up to mix with our cheap drinks. M-e-s-s. Still, it was a great time and what better way to celebrate the re-release of the original remastered and the epic long awaited part 5 than to get hammered! Here are several epic Phantasm themed cocktails you can knock back while pre-gaming for the next installment!

Morningside cemetery mimosas 
1 half orange juice
1 half champagne 
Orange slice for taste.

The Tall Man 
4 oz red wine
2 oz raspberry soda
2 oz ginger ale

The lady in lavender cocktail 
4 oz sparking white wine
2 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 lavender simple syrup 

Reggie's special  
Crushed ice
1 oz Baileys 
1/2 brown creme 
1/2 vodka 
1 scoop chocolate ice cream
Oreos for taste

The silver sphere 
1 oz gin
1 oz lemon juice
1 teaspoon simple syrup
1 egg white 


Friday, September 23, 2016

Top 10 things to do in New England around Halloween.

Top 10 things to do in New England around Halloween.

With the first day of autumn officially now underway there is honestly no better place to spend it than on the East coast area. Between the stunning foliage, if a fan football kicking off hot and heavy, crisp cool nights, wearing hoodies, pumpkin everything, and oh so much more. Here are ten awesome things to do if you are visiting the area this up coming month.

1) Visit Salem MA.

2) Go to a haunted house.

3) Take in a midnight movie.

4) Visit American Stonehenge.

5) Check out some stunning foliage.

6) Visit Stephen King's house/take his tour.

7) Pick pumpkins.

8) Go to Rock & Shock.

9) Buy some awesome horror movies.

10) Visit famous movie locations. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Blair Witch Project (2016)

 The Blair Witch Project (2016)

PLOT - James, Heather Donahue's younger brother has spent countless years trying to find out what exactly happened to her after her disappearance as well as the mania that followed when her footage was found. Now a college student, he discovers a tape shot in the same exact woods where he believes he spots his sister in the background of it. Believing there might actually be a chance of still finding her out there all these years later he teams up with some friends shooting a film project of their own to see if the legends are really in fact true.

LOWDOWN - I'm sure I'm speaking for many people my age here who clearly remember the cult sensation that happened back in 1999 when The Blair Witch Project came out. A shot on video independent film, that played up the marketing gimmick that this was actually a true story and that the three leads in the film were really missing. I must admit I myself at the tender age of eleven thought this was a real movie until I saw Heather Donahue appear on the Tonight Show the following summer when the Blair Witch phenomena seemed to be everywhere. Taking a page out of classics such as Cannibal Holocaust, or Man Bites Dog. Here this movie played as a real life documentary/found footage film. Very ahead of it's time in one of the very few films that actually executes it well. Sadly the found footage wave hit and it hit hard. Whatever once was scary about these movies are a dime a dozen and really rarely work.

This film was shot on a low budget, with the actors as the actual crew. Here I have to give these filmmakers props. They thought of a cheap way to shoot a horror movie, and became over night success stories. The Blair Witch Project made history for how well it did, and paved the way for so many others. A first of it's kind, sadly due to how popular it was it was spoofed, and spoofed, and spoofed some more. Soon this very creepy well written horror movie became nothing more than a joke. A sequel, showing how crazy and big this film had actually become was released a little too soon, and besides a clever twist just seemed like one other way to milk the money cow. Years passed, and lesser found footage films were made.

I myself loved the original film (even had a poster of it in my bedroom. Bang, 90's kid!), and it took me a re-watch in high school to actually see how unsettling and scary this movie really was. I'm sorry but being in the woods at night is scary shit. I find it scarier than most horror plots, and anytime I do re-watch this movie, which is rare I get scared shitless. Sorry but there are countless moments in this film that still get me. The worst is when the three leads wake up to loud cracking in the middle of the night of branches breaking, or when the tent suddenly starts to move. I'm sorry, but as much as people love to make fun of this movie, it's still scary as HELL. Years passed, and I really never paid this film any further thought besides being in my top three scariest movies I would name. I must admit I did joke about this movie and still die laughing whenever the "same log" scene happens. Well I, along with many other horror fans were highly surprised when we heard that director Adam Wingard pulled a Beyonce by making his newest movie a sequel to the Blair Witch during this summer's comic con when the official trailer was released. Up until then audiences believed this was just a film called The Woods. Mr. Wingard so far has impressed audiences alike with his retro throwbacks with such hits as You're Next and The Guest, two films I loved. I found it a pretty brave move to be making a sequel, most of all to a movie like The Blair Witch. Still, it appeared to be in good hands, and I was really looking forward to it's release.

I stayed away from spoilers, but instantly felt unsure when fans from all over after this past opening weekend claimed this movie felt nothing more than just a living breathing haunted house on screen filled with jump scares and loud noises. No lasting impressions, and didn't hold any magic that the original had. Deciding to say screw it and see the movie for myself I ventured out with a friend last night keeping my expectations low. 

Over all thoughts?

Well, right off the bat you can sorta tell it's a Wingard movie (most of all the club scene) the movie tries to be realistic by establishing four close friends, one of which is James, the brother of Heather from the original and how for years he's always held onto hope that she's still alive (...) and has recently been sent a tape via Youtube by two locals that claim they found a tape in the woods that shows footage of the same exact house that his sister was last seen in during her footage from the first film. Determined to go out there and look and try and find some answers he teams up with his friends one of which is filming a project on James and his search for his sister. Yes we all know the story of the original, but the fact that they skimmed over so much, mostly dealing with the past history involving Peter's sister seemed a little rushed for me. Yeah, we know what happened, but in today's day of age no matter how massive the woods are the fact that they are JUST getting around to looking seemed a little far fetched. Also maybe a little deeper character development, maybe even interviewing James and Heather's parents over what happened, or dig into some more realistic theories of James believing how his sister could still be out there. Yes, this is a horror movie and they needed to get things rolling but I felt a little more fleshing out would have done the world of good for these character who actually seemed pretty likable. I loved the character of Peter, and actually found myself liking the group that went out there. There wasn't much time to get to know this small group but Wingard did a great job having us be on their side right from the start.

I know some people didn't like the drone idea but hell, why not? In today's technology it seemed pretty clever. In fact my favorite shots in the whole movie was showing the drone slowly lift off with the characters watching it. Also liked the mini camera that went behind their ears. Cool way to make it seem more in your face, as if the audience was a character themselves. I must admit things didn't take long to get cracking and when it did, man oh man. I still believe less is more. What made the first movie so scary was how settle it was. Right off the bat with this movie the sounds you hear legit feel like fucking the monster from Cloverfield is coming to get them with massive trees falling. Did it take this witch 20+ years to grow or sound this big? I feel had they started off a little slower with noises like cracking in the middle of the night of cries would have built the tension and made this film much scarier. Sadly I hate to say it but this is a jump/pop out movie, something I'm stunned this director did. These type of movies are popcorn movies, enjoyable seeing on the big screen but no lasting impression. I couldn't see getting creeped out or scared once you own it on blu-ray. Some of the scares were eye rolling such as characters standing right there and getting scared when somebody touched their arm so they jump and it feels like the volume in the movie gets turned up to 11. I feel this director was better than this and really had the opportunity to make a truly scary movie and just sorta fell flat. The film had moments, don't get me wrong. Loved the characters waking up to all of those little wooden people. Really liked when it shows what happens when you break one of them. Super creepy seeing gains ones everywhere, or how this time around the witch seems to have cursed the woods so not only are the campers lost and going in circles unable to leave, it seems that time has been messed with as well. It no longer becomes daylight, and seconds can feel like days or even years. Staying with me still? Yeah it sounds confusing but it's actually a clever spooky little plot element they put in there. Not a huge fan, but a good way to deep things scary. 

I really didn't like the whole foot infection scene, almost seemed to be in the wrong movie and never truly had a huge payoff. The camera work of course was shaking but so much was happening so fast I feel I need to see this movie again in case I missed anything. Once things get cracking everything happens super fast. Enjoyed the few moments where the director was showing a more human side to these characters (the just breath moment between the two of them, or  James believing he sees his sister in the house) I'm sorry but I kept waiting for some huge payoff dealing with Heather. I understand the actress who played her is no longer involved but after all this hype the only time I was on the edge of my seat was during the house scene. I would have KILLED for any connection to do with part one and legit we got zip. Super bummer. Also this witch, she's huge. Liked the few glimpses we got of her but for a few seconds I truly believed I was watching REC instead of a Blair Witch movie. The ending starts off strong but sadly lands flat. I feel they really had a chance for some huge payoff and instead left it much like the original so it's found footage. Really?

So overall as a fan of the first movie I did enjoy this movie for what it was. It was a cool idea that sadly never fully lifted off the way I felt it should have. Still, a fun little jump scare movie to check out in order to get into the spirit of Halloween. If this movie gave us anything it will remind us how good the first movie was. So go check it out and let me know what you thought!

2 1/2 stars!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Fright Night II

 Fright Night II

"Such a thing could simply not happen twice." - Peter Vincent 

PLOT - Three years after the original film Charlie is attending college and has convinced himself that everything that has happened was an illusion. That Jerry Dandrige was a serial killer, and that Peter Vincent and himself shared a group hypnosis. Now dating a new girl, and showing signs of finally moving on Charlie one night meets a mysterious actress named Regine, who's just moved into the same apartment building with her strange group of friends that Peter Vincent lives in. It isn't long before Charlie is plagued by vivid nightmares of Regine visiting his dorm room and sucking his blood. Is this all a dream? Or is it someone coming back or revenge? 

LOWDOWN - There are certain movies that I vividly remember constantly watching as a child and the awesome artwork on the front of the tapes. There was The Goonies, The Lost Boys, The Monster Squad, Fright Night, and of course the absolutely stunning white VHS artwork of the female vampire for the sequel Fright Night. My late mother loved the Fright Night movies and these were two classics my sister and I re-watched over and over again growing up. I was raised in a household where vampires weren't these sparking moody little teenagers. I grew up seeing vampires as these sexy mysterious terrifying creatures of the night. Between The Lost Boys and these two Fright Night movies I saw vampires as monsters who not only were misunderstood but blood thirsty and very very scary. I feel the original Fright Night is one of the best horror movies to come out of the 1980's. It has an Alfred Hitchcock like plot, pays tribute to Hammer horror and the old school 1950's creature features and horror hosts, as well as having mind blowing practical effects (thanks to the amazing Steve Johnson), a wonderful cast (one of the first films where an actual horror movie fan was the lead character in a horror movie.), and one of the best on screen movie monsters of all time.

Jerry Dandrige played wonderfully by the ever so handsome Chris Sarandon. 

This movie is a huge staple I feel for horror fans, and thanks to the wonderful director of Tom Holland we have a cult classic that is still finding fans of today. Of course due to the success of the first film in typical 80's fashion there just HAD to be a sequel. With Charlie and Peter returning, the perfect plot of Charlie in college trying to move on with new monsters returning seemed rock solid. One of my favorite plot devices is Jerry's sister Regine (played by the perfect and very beauitfuil  Julie Carmen) coming back for revenge, but wanting to turn Charlie into what he hates the worst...a vampire. Sadly as much as I love Tommy Lee Wallace (director of such underrated classics like Halloween III, and the terrifying Stephen King mini series IT) he didn't capture the magic and solid film we got in the first with Mr. Holland. (Chris and him were bust making Child's Play when this movie was being filmed so not a total loss.) Still, he did what he could and I still absolutely love this movie, not only because it's near and dear to my heart due to the fact I was always watching this growing up, but the fact that they really did put forth a solid effort. It's rare for a sequel to be as good as the original but I really loved how it showed how much work was put forth in this film. Between the amazing effects (some of the best Fangoria issues are showing on set coverage of the makeups done on this movie. Regine's final full body suit makeup is absolutely terrifying.) The overall well written story, and our two leads returning to do battle again. Still, I did bum out that Amy and Evil Ed didn't come back for this entry. Years ago in 2008 I attended a show at Monster Mania and heard that very early on when this sequel was in development they originally wanted actress Amanda Bearse to be involved. She said she went to only one meeting back when the script was still being written then never heard from them again. Bummer. Still as much as I like the actress who played the new girlfriend Alex, she didn't hold the same chemistry Amanda shared with William. As for Evil Ed (remember kids, at the end of the first movie it was teased he survived) he was originally set to be the main villain but was currently busy filming 976 Evil (a cult classic within itself) At first during the many script changes they were going to have him be a minor role, which later got changed into the Louie role. I always missed this character, but come on when Mr. Kruger himself is directing his first movie and wants you to be in it, you take THAT role. Still massive Fright Night fans can be happy with the comic book versions of the movie where the character of Evil Ed is in it. I myself only own a few but highly enjoy them. 

With these losses the film is still strong but truly never felt the same. Still, if you can believe that Charlie has convinced himself that the events of the first film were all in his head you can simply sit back and enjoy the show. 

This movie like I've said before is a film I've watched countless times on VHS. In fact when I met Mr. Ragsdale I had him sign my part II copy simply because it meant so much to me. I still remember the trailers before the film started like LockUp or Eddie And The Cruisers II Eddie Lives or how can we not forget the nose commercial sucking up boomboxes or flights to Paris for doing too much coke? This film is out of print and VERY pricy online to get on DVD. I'm still awaiting for one of the several popular blu-ray companies to announce that this title will be next. Twilight Time has all ready released two editions for the original, I guess it's only a matter of time before they get the rights and we have part II. Until then I have my old VHS copy as well as a bootleg I snagged at a convention. What I really like about this movie is how Regine steals the show as the female vampire. Up until then, horror really didn't have many horror female icons. I mean sure we had Elvira, but really no female horror villains for little girls to look up to. I remember being completely fascinated by Regine. Between how beautiful she was, those killer yellow wide contacts they gave her, her sense of style, and of course those hair-dos! One of my favorite shots is when Charlie and Alex are making out in his car and it pans slowly up to Regine laying on the roof serving complete horror fantasy. Her chemistry with Charlie was completely to die for. Is it bad I was sorta rooting for her? Also let's talk about Ragsdale? I've always found him completely adorable in everything he does. Ask my friend Jeanette, we acted like complete idiots meeting him talking about Mannequin II and how the girl eats the paper around the subs (...) also Herman's Head. Come on people. Come thruuuuu! I loved him in this and really found him sexy when he started to turn. One of my favorite moments is when he's bowling alone with his leather loves and sunglasses on. How can you not love him? 

A huge highlight is Brad Fiedel returning for the score. In fact this entire soundtrack much like the original is spot on. One of the best scenes in the entire movie is Peter and Charlie going to Regine's party as she does her "performance" and dances with him. It's cheesy but sexy as well. I love her speech to Peter Vincent later on about being Jerry's brother and seeking revenge. I feel this could have been a plot point that could have been somewhat expanded on more. I always LOVED the scene in the original when Jerry tells Charlie he's going to give him something he never had.


In fact Jerry's whole backstory is so rich and mysterious you are often wondering how he came to be? He was 100 years old when he died, and his sister was a vampire? Would have loved to see more of this storyline/background fleshed out.

As for the group of vampires I loved this idea. I loved in the original how much they transformed the characters of Jerry, Evil Ed, and Amy. In this we have a whole oddball crew of monsters. You have Regine, then the he/she vampire on rollershakes, Louie aka Uncle Rico who also played a werewolf in The Monster Squad, and the driver who eats bugs. Loved all of their deaths and the playful scene of The Midnight Hour playing and them bowling with heads. Goes to show this film did not take itself seriously. I mean come on, this was a sequel about vampires released at the end of the 1980's. why not go nuts. Still, I always enjoyed the effects, and Peter and Alex teaming up to save Charlie. A movie that takes it's time and has a great showdown at the end. My only downside is the final scene of Charlie and Alex. Is the final line of this movie really making babies? Ugh... Would have loved to see a third film made in the early 90's instead of that dreadful remade as well as it's remade sequel that I've still yet to see. Also can we talk about Josh Richman as the guy at the nuthouse. Classic. With laughs like this as well as the shrink on the railroad tracks you can tell this film knew very well it wouldn't be an Oscar winner. Still it has chilling moments and plays up the sexual tension between victim and monster. Remember that super weird performance scene of Regine on TV with the blood. So strange...

So this is a fun sequel that is a must to watch around this time of year. We can only pray as fans we finally set a blu-ray release that it deserves!
4 1/2 stars!

The best Halloween commercials from our childhood.

 The best Halloween commercials from our childhood.
After witnessing my friend Eddie's a-m-a-z-i-n-g Halloween mixed tape for the second year in the row I absolutely fell in love with the retro Halloween/autumn themed commercials that I recognized
from my very own childhood. Here are several awesome spooky commercials that remind you yet again why this is the most wonderful time of the year!

So which commercials were your favorite? Stay tuned soon for a post on the heyday of original spooky made for TV movies!!!