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31 Days of Halloween Week 2 Reviewed

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The Lords of Salem (2012)

Week 2 of 31 days of Halloween begins with The Lords of Salem. I’ve always thought of Rob Zombie as a talented filmmaker who makes movies that are very much not for me. I never finished House of 1000 Corpses or The Devil’s Rejects. His first Halloween movie was competent but utterly pointless. But The Lords of Salem was my jam - a film dealing with a specifically American story & mythology but filtered though an Italian lens (Argento / Bava) etc, while still feeling 100% Rob Zombie. The coven of witches were great - especially Dee Wallace & the piece of music by the Lords was suitably spooky & evil sounding. Great unsettling mood & visuals (until the Nu Metal music video imagery in the the finale). Not even Sheri Moon’s awful dreadlocks could sink this film. More of this thanks Rob. 4/5

Ghosts of Mars (2001)

An average sci-fi actioner undone by the bizarre flashback / editing structure that detracts from the very simple story. Carpenter was clearly done at this point - even his old school filmmaking methods couldn’t enliven this schlock. Positives are the model work in a heavily CGI-reliant age and the surprisingly good pairing of Ice Cube and Natasha Henstridge. Also, the idea of a dormant species beneath Mars's surface is a cool one but not fully explored. The big bad was woefully ineffective - a constantly roaring Misfits cos-player. Jason Statham’s leering sleazebag schtick wore itself out in less than a minute but then continued all the way through for some reason. 2/5

Madhouse (1981)

This was an engaging slow-burn Italian-American giallo-esque slasher featuring estranged twin sisters, a murderous Rottweiler, a batshit crazy priest and an ending that was also used in the later Happy Birthday To Me but is still disgustingly effective. This one has stuck with me. 3.5 / 5

The Boogeyman (1980)

Like Madouse, this is a slow-moving early 80s horror, but leans towards the supernatural and is not nearly as involving. It has its moments, but it’s a long while before the main threat is revealed. 3/5

Leprechaun Returns (2018)

Surprisingly fun re-quel that gives you pretty much what you want from a Leprechaun movie - goopy practical gore, bad one-liners as well as some well-timed gags. 3.5 /5

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

Before Jason went to space, he went to Hell. And before he went to Hell he went to Mahattan (briefly). And before he went to Manhattan he took a long boat ride from Crystal Lake. But he killed a shit ton of people along the way so it wasn’t a completely wasted trip. As a kid this was my least fave F13th, mainly for the well known fact that the movie only spends the last 30 mins in Vancouver - sorry NYC, after Jason stows away on some student pleasure cruise. But watching it again now, knowing most of the movie is on a boat, I enjoyed it as a pretty fun and slick Jason movie, full of varied kills - Flying V to the head and boxing decapitation are my faves - a relentless pace and (when they finally arrive there) some great scuzzed up NY alleyways and subway locations and requisite 80s punk gangs. After seven films at Crystal Lake it was a nice change to get out of there. And I am a sucker for the graffiti’d, steamy, sludgy urban hellscape that New York seemed to be in the 80’s. 4 /5

Dark Harvest (2023)

David Slade’s adaptation of the Dark Harvest novella has all the right moves - looks fantastic, has a 60s period setting, is drenched in October atmosphere and some gnarly gore. But the plot accelerates much too fast and leads one to suspect there is a longer cut floating around. The dark secrets of the town are revealed in a haphazard manner, meaning the final payoff doesn't land the way it should. I loved the ‘poisoned small town’ vibe (harks back to IT) but needed a longer runtime to really dig into that. Sawtooth Jack was a cool new boogeyman. Reminds me a bit of the new Exorcist with some meaty ideas that are just left hanging. You could do worse for an October watch though.

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