Thursday, May 10, 2018

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Reviews of '87: Monsters-A-Go-Go

Each of these film involves something that isn't human...sometimes not of this world...monsters - but not necessarily monstrous.

Harry and the Hendersons
dir: William Dear
scr: William Dear and Bill Martin & Ezra D. Rappaport
Oscar Winner: Best Makeup

Family finds sasquatch and takes him home. Works in its own wacky family-friendly comedy way. Brilliant casting: John Lithgow in Lithgow mode, of course; Melinda Dillon as a deadpan-irked but also devoted wife and mom, duh; but a pre-Poirot David Suchet as a French bigfoot hunter?! GENIUS! Impressive makeup effects aid in Kevin Peter Hall's sweet execution of the titular Harry. I love a movie that knows what it is and embraces it.

The Lost Boys, Prince of Darkness, and more - after the jump.....

Near Dark
dir: Kathryn Bigelow
scr: Kathryn Bigelow and Eric Red

Young man follows a girl home to her vampire clan. Apparently, I only like Bigelow when she goes Dark (yuk-yuk). A terrific blend of horror and western genres, a great lesson to young men to just mind your fucking business, I don't care how aw-shucks sweet you think you are! No gothic beauty to be found here: it's dirt and dust, grime and gore, cruelty before the kill. Frightening and sad.

The Monster Squad
dir: Fred Dekker
scr: Shane Black & Fred Dekker

Kids must do battle against Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy, the Gillman, and Frankenstein's monster. I think I last watched this eight years ago. Surprised to find it doesn't really hold up. Too many characters, little respect for its womenfolk, and one of those movies where 1/3 of it is the climactic battle. Won't deny its Famous Monsters of Filmland pleasures, but disappointed.

Blood Diner
dir: Jackie Kong
scr: Michael Sonye

Riff on Blood Feast has two brothers finding victims to reincarnate the goddess Shitaar. Over-the-top horror-comedy delivers buckets of blood, performances played to the back balcony. It all works, cheapo makeup and all. These campy delights have campy ends.

The Hidden
dir: Jack Sholder
scr: Jim Kouf (writing as Bob Hunt)

Cop and fed investigate spree-killings. Fantastic chase sequences, chilling kills, quirkily funny. Every second is a thrill, right up to the final, audacious moment. Pre-Twin Peaks Kyle MacLachlan plays an odd FBI agent from the Pacific Northwest, if you can believe it.

House II: The Second Story
dir: Ethan Wiley
scr: Ethan Wiley, inspired by an original story by Fred Dekker

Guy inherits old home, finds family, adventure...and himself. A sequel to House in name only, more fantasy than horror. Surprises with wholesome messaging about the families we make and the legacies we honor. Adorable, hilarious, a blast. Plus: early appearances from Bill Maher and Amy Yasbeck!

Prince of Darkness
dir/scr: John Carpenter (writing as Martin Quatermass)

Priest, physicists, and researchers investigate a mysterious cylinder whose contents could mean the end of the world. Upsetting throughout, a bleak meditation on the powerlessness of both faith and science to fully confront Evil. A sprawling cast, maybe too much so - the number of people who go off alone, then go off alone to look for the person who went off alone, is...a lot. Yet Carpenter gets away with it, not just because of his expert handling of atmosphere, suspense, and disturbing images, but because of the depth of the work, the questions raised, the debates held between Victor Wong and Donald Pleasence.

Masters of the Universe
dir: Gary Goddard
scr: David Odell

He-Man, stuck on Earth, must return to Eternia to save it from Skeletor. Introduces more characters than it knows what to do with. Makeup, costumes, sets: a hoot, impressive in scale, imagination, execution. I didn't mind it.

The Lost Boys
dir: Joel Schumacher
scr: Janice Fischer & James Jeremias and Jeffrey Boam, story by Janice Fischer & James Jeremias

Brothers discover their new hometown is a haven for vampires. I love this movie, from the groovy ponytail saxophone man on the pier to the pot-loving grandpa, from Edward Herrmann's awful suits to the candle-lit vampire lair. Zeroes in on sibling dynamics without sacrificing depth of the mother - thanks be to Dianne Wiest! Great soundtrack, score.

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