Archive for the ‘Double Feature Friday’ Category

Okay, so it’s a bit (well a lot late) but it’s finally updated 🙂

Tonight’s double feature is a double dose of 90’s horror featuring actor, Sean Whalen (Twister, Never Been Kissed, Laid to Rest).  Our two features tonight will be The People Under the Stairs (1991) and Idle Hands (1999).

The People Under the Stairs (1991)

Directed by Wes Craven

“In every neighborhood there is one house that adults whisper about and children cross the street to avoid.”

In a run-down ghetto, a boy named Poindexter aka “Fool”  (Brandon Adams) is roped into helping rob the house of his family’s landlords, the Robesons, by a thug named Leroy (Ving Rhames) who is dating his sister Ruby (Kelly Jo Minter).  Fool and his family are in the process of being evicted because they are three days late with their rent, and they are unable to come up with the money to pay.  The rule of their landlords is because they are three days late, they have to pay three times the amount of their normal rent.  Fool decides to go along with the plan to rob the Robeson’s in order to save his family from getting kicked out into the street.  It is rumored that the Robeson’s have a hidden stash of gold hidden somewhere in their house.  The next day, Fool, Leroy, and another burglar, Spenser (Jeremy Roberts), go case the house.  Fool pretends to be a Bear Scout in order to approach the house, but the woman who answers the door is very cold to him, and tells him to go away.  She also does not allow him into the house when he asks to use the bathroom.  Spenser then takes his shot at getting into the house, pretending to be an electrician in order to gain access to the house.  The woman lets him in after some cajoling on his part, and after she notices a ring on his finger in the shape of a skull.  The look she gives as she closes the door tells up that things do not look good for Spenser.  A little while later the woman leaves the house. After a while, Spenser has still not returned, and Leroy is getting antsy.  He thinks that Spenser may have betrayed him, so he and Fool enter the house.  They are quickly attacked by a large dog, and after they escape that attack with minimal damage, they split up to explore the house.  Fool heads to the basement where he comes upon the dead body of Spenser, who happens to be holding a gold coin, and he also hears strange noises.  He rushes upstairs, sees that the Robeson’s are returning, finds Leroy, and tells him that Spenser is dead.  Soon Fool and Leroy are pursued by the Robeson’s- who consist of “Mommy” (Wendy Robie) and “Daddy” (Everett McGill).

Leroy ends up dead, but the Robeson’s do not yet know Fool is in the house, and he escapes when he follows a rag doll into the walls.  He meets a girl who lives in the house, Alice, who says the Robeson’s are her parents.  They have spent their lives trying to find the perfect son and daughter.  Alice is perfect because she does not hear/speak/or see any evil, but all the boys that the Robesons have brought home have not been deemed good enough as they have tried to rebel, and so they have been mutilated and stuck in the basement.  She has one friend, named Roach, who escaped from the basement, and now lives in the walls.  Mommy and daddy soon discover that Fool is still in the house, and they go on a rampage, especially when they find both Fool and Roach in Alice’s room.  Fool and Roach try to escape into the walls of the house, and Alice is punished- she has to clean up Leroy’s blood in the foyer.  Will Mommy and Daddy catch Fool and Roach, or will Mommy and Daddy get what’s coming to them?

The People Under the Stairs is a like darkly comedic modern fairytale of evil “parents” who have stolen children and mutilated them when they don’t turn out to be perfect.  Alice is the princess being held captive that the hero, Fool, comes to rescue.  The story also involves the riches that the Robeson’s have hoarded that Fool is trying to locate so that he can save his family, and the other people of the ghetto, from the clutches of the evil Robesons. The portrayals of Mommy and Daddy are over-the-top and endlessly disturbing.  They are incestuous (they are not actually husband and wife, but rather brother and sister), sadomasochistic, cannibalistic, and obsessively religious, with their focus on perfection, seeing/hearing/speaking no evil, and their insistence on everyone going to Hell.  The house that they live in is incredibly bizarre with its seemingly endless rooms and maze-like corridors, its passages within the walls, and its booby-traps.  It’s like some find of absurd funhouse that I for one would not want to be trapped in, although I wouldn’t mind owning a house like this- I’ve always wanted to live in a house with secret passageways and the like- I just wouldn’t want to have a bunch of mutilated people living in the walls.

Idle Hands (1999)

Directed by Rodman Flender

“The Devil will find work for idle hands to do…but what happens when he chooses the laziest teen slacker in the world to do his dirty work?”

This stoner comedy/horror film centers on a lazy slacker, Anton Tobias (Devon Sawa), who finds out that his hand is possessed by some kind of demonic force the day after his hand kills his parents without his knowledge.  One night, as Anton’s parents (Fred Willard and Connie Ray) are preparing for bed after a vigorous day of Halloween decorating, they turn off the light, only to see a message written on the ceiling, stating that something is under the bed.  Pretty soon they both are killed by something unseen.  The next morning, Anton wakes up, does his slacker thing, puts on some headphones, heads downstairs, switches on the TV, and looks for some pot, which unfortunately he is out of.  He heads over to his slacker/pot head friend’s house, where his best friends, Pnub (Eldon Henson) and Mick (Seth Green) say they are out of pot.  We get a glimpse of his love interest, Molly (Jessica Alba) as she rides down the street on her bike, and she drops her journal which is full of her poetry and song lyrics, which Anton thinks are brilliant.  He heads to her house to give her back the journal after some cajoling from is friends, and after borrowing a pair of pants, but when he gets there he ends up losing his nerve.  He returns the notebook, and then leaves abruptly.  He heads home, and is accosted by a couple of cops (one of which is Sean Whalen) who went to school with Anton.  He makes fun of them, they search his pockets, and find an empty baggy that smells like marijuana, and decide to charge him with drug possession.  He points out that the bag is empty, so they drop the bag on the group and write him a ticket for littering.  After arriving at home, and having an unsuccessful attempt at smoking an oregano and nutmeg combination, he prepares to make a sandwich, failing to see the blood on the knife.  After he takes a bite, he sees the blood, and hastily spits out the bite of food.  He then freaks out, using his lazy dog to explore the house looking for his parents, and he eventually finds them dead, disguised as Halloween decorations.

His friends come over at this point, and after some delayed reactions, they see the dead parents.  After finding some clues that point to Anton as the killer, he realizes his hand is possessed.  The possessed hand ends up killing his friends, who soon come back as zombies (although they don’t seem to be the flesh-eating kind, but more the comic-relief kind), and Anton’s hand ends up forcing him to go over to his love interest’s house.  While he attempts to control his possessed hand, Molly ends up showing Anton that she shares his affection, and they make plans to go to the school dance together.  Anton is finally able to leave.  After a few more murders at the hands of his hand, he decides to cut it off with a cleaver….but the hand still has a mind of its own.  Meanwhile, we are also following a druidic high priestess (Vivica A. Fox)  who is trying to locate the hand so that she can destroy it.  Will she find it in time?

Idle Hands seems to be a movie very typical of the time in which it came out, with the predominance of marijuana smoking slackers, but just put into a frame of a horror film.  The premise of the movie is that, “Idle hands are the devil’s playground”, and this particular demon has chosen to possess Devin Sawa because he is the laziest of slackers, and has “idle hands”.  He lives a life where he apparently never attends school, stays in his room for days at a time, and lives for getting high basically.  The demon that possesses his hand not only forces him to kill, but also gets him out of his house and into the world again, so I guess not everything was a negative effect of the possession.  The murders in this movie are never played seriously- the death of Anton’s parents was never really addressed other than when he finds the bodies, but he never was sad, and we never dwell on their deaths.  The deaths of his friends weren’t anything to feel bad about either because they just come back to life as zombies- they are the same though personality-wise, they just look a little decayed, although this saves the problem of having to find actual costumes for the school dance.  After Anton chops off his own hand (which seems to cause him minimal pain) the murders escalate when the hand escapes, and heads for the school dance.  We are treated to some death and mayhem at the hands of the hand, we get some more incompetence at the hands off our leads as they try to track down the hand, and we even get a cameo of The Offspring as they perform at the school dance, kind of reminiscent of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones performing at the party in Clueless!!  This movie was much better than I expected it to be, and there were many hilarious moments, but also some awesomely gruesome and interesting death sequences that definitely made for enjoyable viewing.

Thoughts on the double feature

Some SPOILERS may follow

–        Both movies obviously share the acting talents of Sean Whalen, who always reminds me of a young Steve Bushemi.  In The People Under the Stairs he has a larger role as the mutilated but heroic Roach who saves Fool on numerous occasions, and is a great friend to Alice.  In Idle Hands he is more of a losery loser for lack of a better word who wants to be a hero and has become a police officer due to this desire, but seems to be more into getting revenge on those who make fun of him.

–        Both movies are comedic horror films.

–        Both movies include a severed hand.  In The People Under the Stairs, the hand of one of Mommy and Daddy’s victims is fed to their vicious dog.  In Idle Hands, the possessed hand is cut off voluntarily and goes off on a vicious rampage of its own.

–        Both movie involve scenes where our heros/victims crawl around in walls and vents.  In The People Under the Stairs, the house of the Robeson’s is filled with secret passageways in the walls, and Fool, Alice, and Roach crawl around in these passages for safety.  In Idle Hands, Molly and her friend escape into the vents in the school to try to get away from the possessed hand.

–        In each movie Sean Whalen’s character dies L In The People Under the Stairs he dies by shotgun, in Idle Hands, by possessed demon hand.

–  The father in The People Under the Stairs looks eerily similar to the father in Idle Hands. That may just be me though.

Tonight’s double feature is a double dose of comedic horror (pre-Shaun of the Dead), featuring The Toxic Avenger and Dead Alive (aka Braindead)

The Toxic Avenger (1984)

Directed By Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman

“Criminals, beware of the Toxic Avenger.  He will kick your butt HARD!!”

So this was the first time I have ever seen The Toxic Avenger.  Of course I have heard of it, and I have also of course heard of Troma Entertainment.  I have even seen a movie or two produced by them (okay, just one- Beware! Children at Play), so I knew sort of what to expect.  My brother suggested I watch it, and called it the cheesiest cheese he had ever seen, and after having watched it, I have to agree, not that cheesy necessarily equals bad.  I like cheese, especially fried stuff with cheese….So what about this little movie called The Toxic Avenger.  This is the movie that put Troma on the map as far as horror films go, and it set a precedent about what to expect from them in the future- such as cheese, blood, humor, and over-the-top ridiculousness.  Prior to The Toxic Avenger, Troma produced sex comedies, but after The Toxic Avenger, they became a horror movie production studio.

So what happens in The Toxic Avenger?  Well, in Tromaville, a town full of steroid-abusing gym goers, punks, corrupt politicians, and the like, a 98-pound weakling named Melvin (Mark Torgl) works as a janitor at a gym.  He is made fun of, and abused by the gym-goers.  One day they decide to play a practical joke on him.  They lure him into dressing up in a leotard and tutu, and kissing a sheep, and then they chase him around.  Unluckily for him, and them, he falls out a window into some toxic sludge.  Instead of dying though, he becomes the toxic avenger!! (after his toxic sludge adventure he is played by Mitch Cohen.)  His face gets distorted, but he gets really strong and powerful!!!!  (Kind of like in Family Guy where the family is exposed to toxic waste and they all get super-human powers.) Then he dispatches those that do evil, saving a blind girl named Sarah (Andree Maranda) in the process, and they become lovers.  There is even a lovely falling in love montage, which rivals the montages in Rocky- in which they dance, and even hula-hoop!!  Not everything is all fine and dandy in Tromaville though, because, although the citizens (except the bad guys) feel that the Toxic Avenger (called the “monster hero” throughout the film) is a hero, the mayor (Pat Ryan Jr.)wants to kill him because he is an awful corrupt guy, and most of the problems in Tromaville are because of him.  After the toxic avenger kills a little old lady, the mayor tries to use this to his advantage, but this doesn’t work because that little old lady actually ran a white slavery ring!!  So does the toxic avenger continue with his hero status, or does the mayor get his way?

What’s awesome is that they tried to make a kiddie cartoon about the toxic avenger, unfortunately it only lasted for a few shows.  If you watch the movie, is that it’s not so much of a kiddie movie- there is plentiful nudity, the deaths are very gruesome, and if you tried to edit the movie to make it child accessible, you’d be cutting out half of the movie.  It does have a good message though, somewhat.  The nerdy dork gets his revenge, and works for the good of Tromaville, and the corrupt and evil people are punished in gruesome ways.  There are some very creative and over-the-top deaths.  For example, the toxic avenger makes an ice cream sundae in a guy’s mouth, and then forces him underneath an ice cream shake blender.  Another death involves a fryolater!!

So is this movie for everyone?  Definitely not.  Did I love everything about it?  No, but it’s a lot of fun, and a lot of cheese, and it should be watched with the attitude of just have a cheesy grand old time.  The characters are stereotypical, majorly over-the-top, and somewhat abrasive and annoying, but it is all in the spirit of fun.

Dead-Alive (aka Braindead) (1992)

Directed by Peter Jackson

“Some things won’t stay down… even after they die.”

Dead Alive begins on Skull Island in 1957 where an explorer is attempting to bring a Sumatran Rat-Monkey back to New Zealand to display in a zoo.  The natives of the island attempt to stop him from taking the monkey, but he brandishes a gun, and scares them away.  They chase after him though, and just when he thinks he’s safe, and he is getting away in a vehicle with his guides, he is bit by the monkey.  The guides obviously know something about the bites of this monkey, and they cut off the infected parts- unfortunately one of these infected parts happens to be his head…

We then cut to Wellington, New Zealand, where a guy named Lionel (Timothy Balme) lives with his overbearing mother (Elizabeth Moody).  We also meet a girl named Paquita (Diana Penalver) who is the daughter of a shop-keeper there.  She badly wants to fall in love, and due to a foretelling by some tarot cards, she believes that Lionel is the one she is to have a romantic entanglement with.  Well, Lionel and Paquita end up going out, and for their first date go to a zoo.  Lionel’s mother follows them, and unfortunately while she is there spying on them, she is bit by the hideously ugly Sumatran Rat-Monkey.  Thinking that this is just any old bite, she asks Lionel to take her home, and they call a nurse to attend to her.

The next morning however, all is not well.  When trying to get ready for a lunch with a member of the WLWL (Wellington Ladies Welfare League), part of the skin on her face peels away, and then when eating, one of her ears falls off…things are not looking to good.  Lionel calls for the nurse, and soon after she gets there, Lionel’s mother dies.  Not for long though.  She awakes as a zombie, and rips the nurses head off (almost completely), thus causing the nurse to become a zombie too.

Lionel decides, rather than trying to kill them, or calling for help, to lock them up in the basement, using tranquilizers to keep the pet zombies under control.  Soon, Lionel’s mother escapes, is hit by a car, and has a proper burial (somewhat).  Lionel knows that she is going to come back though, so after she is buried, he goes to dig her up, as she needs constant injections of tranquilizers to stay sedated.  Things do not go as Lionel plans when a group of punks comes with the intention of making trouble.  His mother escapes her grave, bites some of the punks, who in turn become zombies.  The priest comes and kicks some arse for the lord, but unfortunately he is zombiefied too.  Lionel ends up taking some of the remaining zombies home, where is keeps them sedated in the basement.  He has also blown off Paquita due to his zombie issues.  All goes well for a bit, a zombie baby is born, and he seems to have things under control, until a greedy uncle shows up, finds the zombies, and blackmails Lionel.  All hell breaks loose when he decides to throw a party in the house…..lots of blood and guts follow.

Dead Alive is a highly amusing horror comedy, and it is definitely one of the bloodiest and goriest movies I have ever seen.  There are so many hilarious and disgusting parts.  Some of my favorites include the lunch scene with the woman from the WLWL, Lionel’s attempt to have a civilized meal with the zombies, Lionel bringing the zombie baby to the park, the animated intestines, and of course the lawnmower scene, among many others.  This movie is well-shot, and the special effects for the most part, are awesome.  Personally, Dead Alive is more my cup of tea than The Toxic Avenger.

Thoughts on the Double Feature

–        Obviously both of these movies are made to be humorous.  The Toxic Avenger is more a campy cheesy type humor, whereas Dead Alive is more of a bloody slapstick type of humor.

–        In each movie people are dispatched in creative ways. In The Toxic Avenger we have weapons such as a fryolater, ice scream shake blender, and oven used.  In Dead Alive we have a lawnmower, food processor, hedge clippers, and even a gnome used as weapons.

–        In each, the main protagonist is a young man who lives with just his mother, and our protagonist is an unconventional hero.  In The Toxic Avenger we have a wimpy weakling, who turns into a mutated monster hero, and in Dead Alive our protagonist is a wimpy momma’s boy.

–        Each movie has a love story among the horror.  In The Toxic Avenger we have a love story between Melvin and Sarah, and in Dead Alive we have the love story between Lionel and Paquita.

–        Each has a group of violent punks.  In The Toxic Avenger we have our roid-rage punks, and in Dead Alive we have the cemetery punks.

Tonight’s double feature will be Carrie and The Burning

….in each, stupid teenagers make some stupid decisions, and the pranks that they thought would be hilarious don’t turn out the way they planned, leading to some not-so-fun consequences.

Carrie (1976)

Directed by Brian De Palma (Sisters, Scarface, The Untouchables)

“You were warned never to push Carrie to the limits.  Now you must face the evil consequences.”

Adapted from Stephen King’s novel of the same name, Carrie is a story of a lonely teenage outcast who is constantly made fun of and tortured by her peers.  We never get a background of specifically why Carrie White (Sissy SpacekCoal Miner’s Daughter, The Ring Two, An American Haunting) has been singled out to be picked on, but we can assume it’s due to her upbringing by her fanatically religious mother.  Our story starts on the day Carrie gets her first period while taking a shower in the locker room after gym class.  Her mother (Piper LaurieThe Hustler, The Faculty)has never taught her about menstruation (and we can assume that sex-ed was not a subject of curriculum in Carrie’s school), thus she freaks out when she sees the blood and runs to her peers for help thinking she is dying.  They begin to laugh hysterically at her, and throw tampons and pads at her, shouting “Plug it up, plug it up!”, primarily led on by the class bully Chris Hargensen (Nancy AllenDressed to Kill, RoboCop, Poltergeist III).

When the gym teacher, Miss Collins (Betty Buckley“Eight is Enough”, Wyatt Earp) sees what is going on she puts a stop to it.  As Carrie screams and freaks out, we get a first hint of her telekinetic ability when one of the lights in the locker room blows out.  A bit later, when in the principal’s office getting permission to go home he constantly calls her by the incorrect name, and she gets so angry that an ashtray flies off his desk.  Later at home she is confronted by her mother who is very angry that she is now a woman, Carrie asks why she never told her, and her mother just goes on and on about the sins of the woman, and then locks her in the closet so that she can think about things.  Later that night, Carrie breaks a mirror in her room with her telekinetic ability, which she then begins to research at school the next day.

Also the next day, those that tortured Carrie are sentenced to detention with Miss Collins, instead of refusal of prom tickets.  Chris Hargensen is very unhappy about this, and freaks out on Miss Collins during this detention, and thus is not allowed to go to the prom.  Another of Carrie’s classmates, who also is in detention for torturing Carrie, but feels bad about it, Sue Snell (Amy IrvingThe Rage: Carrie 2, Hide and Seek), asks her boyfriend Tommy Ross (William KattHouse, Jawbreaker) to ask Carrie to the prom.  Eventually Carrie accepts.  Meanwhile Chris has cajoled her boyfriend Billy Nolan (John TravoltaGrease, Pulp Fiction) into slaughtering a pig so that they can dump the blood onto Carrie at the prom….death and destruction ensues.

Carrie is a great movie that highlights the common problem of bullying at school, but gives Carrie a tool to fight back.  Her telekinetic ability gives her the power to get revenge on those who have bullied her, the kids at school, and also gives her the ability to fight back against her domineering mother, who possibly has caused her to be an outcast.  Is it a good thing that she ends up killing a multitude of people, including SPOILER those who have only tried to help her?  No, but when someone like Carrie is bullied relentlessly, her pent up anger had to go somewhere, and in this case it was released in a very violent way.  Chris Hargensen was such an awful evil spoiled brat that she just couldn’t leave Carrie alone, even though Carrie really had done nothing to her, she was the one who incited the bullying against Carrie, and she was the one who pulled the prank on Carrie that caused the destruction.  I look at her as the real villain in this film.

The Burning (1981)

Directed by Tony Maylam

“If you go down to the woods today… Watch out for Cropsy!”

The Burning begins at Camp Blackfoot.  Some campers are planning a prank to scare the handyman, Cropsy (Lou David), because apparently he is a sick bastard who revels in torturing the campers.  They decide to put a burning, worm-infested skull next to his bed, and then wake him up by pounding on the windows of his cabin.  Well, the prank works, but Cropsy gets so terrified that he knocks over the skull onto his bed which ignites the bed, and his pants.  He then gets up in fright, and knocks over a can of gasoline which he keeps next to his bed for some reason, and so he gets completely lit on fire.  He runs out of the cabin, to the horror of the campers, falls down, and rolls down a hill into some water, finally extinguishing the flames.  Cropsy survives and is brought to a hospital, where one of the orderlies uses him a scare tactic for aspiring hospital workers.  Very nice!

Five years later, Cropsy is released from the hospital, he harbors resentment for the campers who put him in this situation of course.  He also is horribly disfigured, and the skin grafts that the doctors tried to repair his burs with did not take.  He leaves the hospital, ends up in a scandalous area filled with peep shows and prostitution, he goes home with a prostitute, but stays in the shadows, and turns off the lights in her apartment.  Unfortunately for him, there is a thunderstorm, and when some lightening lights up his face, the prostitute freaks out on him, and he ends up stabbing her with some scissors.  Now, did he stab her because she freaked out on him, or was he planning on killing her anyway?  We’ll never know.

Cut to a different camp, Camp Stonewater, which is across the water from old Camp Blackfoot.  One of the campers who was in on the prank that burned Cropsy, Todd (Brian Matthews) is now a counselor, and Cropsy has come back to this camp to get his revenge.  We meet a group of campers, including a young Jason Alexander as Dave!   This was also both Holly Hunter’s and Fisher Stevens‘ movie debut.  There is some antagonism between some of the campers, as there is an outcast named Alfred (Brian BackerFast Times at Ridgemont High, Loser) who is a peeping tom, and has snuck up on a girl named Sally (Carrick Glenn) in the shower to scare her.  Her “boyfriend”, Glazer (Larry JoshuaDances With Wolves, Unforgiven) is angry about this, and threatens to beat Alfred up.  Later, as the campers are swimming, Glazer pushes Alfred (who can’t swim) into the water.  To get back at Glazer, some of Alfred’s friends shoot some kind of pellet gun at Glazer.  The next day, the older campers, along with Todd and a female counselor, Michelle, are to go on an overnight camping trip downstream.  Cropsy follows the campers on their trip, and that night the killing begins…

Cropsy is a terrifying movie villain.  We only get a few glimpses of his disfigured visage, but that is enough.  He has been horribly burned, and will never have a normal life again, so we do have some sympathy for him in that respect, but he does not take his anger out in a good way.  His weapon of choice is a pair of ultra-sharpened hedge-clippers, and they cause a lot of destruction.  This is a very bloody movie, and the raft massacre is the most infamous scene in the movie.  The special effects are great, and were created by Tom Savini!  This is one of the best summer camp horror movies in my opinion.

Thoughts on the double feature

Some SPOILERS may follow

–        Both of the movies have a prank that goes bad in some way, which ends up causing death and destruction. In the case of Carrie, Chris Hargensen and her cronies decide to slaughter a pig, and then dump the pig’s blood onto Carrie at prom.  In The Burning, our campers decide to put a burning skull into Cropsy’s cabin.  Of course, neither prank goes exactly as planned.  In Carrie, after the blood is dumped on her, she uses her telekinetic powers to kill everyone at the prom (excluding Sue Snell who is locked outside), the auditorium ends up engulfed in flames.  She then causes Chris and Billy to get in a car accident which causes the car to explode.  When she returns home, and her mother tries to kill her, she ends up killing her mother, and then the house implodes on them, and she dies as well.  In The Burning, Cropsy is lit on fire when he knocks the skull onto his bed, and then knocks over a can of gasoline.  He then returns to kill the campers, and counselors at a nearby camp.  He then dies a fiery death.

–        Both movies involve a bully- In Carrie we have Chris Hargensen and her cronies. In The Burning we have uber-cool, and uber-old for camp, Glazer.

–        Each movie involves an abundance of long, curly, man hair!

–        Each movie has an abundance of tube socks!!!!

–        In each, some sport is played briefly.  In Carrie, the movie begins with a volleyball game.  In The Burning, when we cut to the second camp, we are introduced to most of our characters as they play a game of softball.

–        Each movie involves a relationship between a girl and a guy where the girl pushes a guy away, but the guy keeps coming on to her.  In Carrie, Chris has a weird relationship with Billy, where she will seemingly invite him to kiss and fondle her, but then she pushes him away.  This happens multiple times, with her finally using this relationship to get him to agree to participate in her prank.  In The Burning, we have two relationships, one involving Eddy (Ned EisenbergMillion Dollar Baby, Flags of Our Father) pursuing the shy Karen (Carolyn Houlihan). When he goes too far, she pushes him away, and he ends up getting angry and yelling at her.  When she runs off she is killed by Cropsy.  The other relationship is between Glazer and Sally, she seems to be slightly pushing him away, and is not sure whether she wants to go further in her relationship with him, but they do end up together after a bit of teasing. Unfortunately they are then both killed.  (Obviously they broke one of the cardinal rules in surviving a horror movie!)

For tonight’s double feature I am watching The Fog and The Mist.

… I’ve stated before, I love fog!  I don’t love driving in it, but I love it’s presence in horror movies.  It’s just so utterly creepy, and you never know what could be lurking in it.

The Fog (1980)

Directed by John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing)

“Lock your doors. Bolt your windows.  There’s something in THE FOG!”

Antonio Bay is celebrating its 100th anniversary!  But, what the residents of Antonio Bay don’t know is that 100 years before, the founders of the town plotted to kill a group of lepers, and those lepers are about to get their revenge!

Our story begins with a group of children on a beach being told the story of the Elizabeth Dane, a ship that sunk 100 years before (the ships that the lepers were sailing on), when a fog rolled in, obscuring their sight of land.  They followed a fire on the beach, which they thought was a light to guide them, and instead of landing safely on land, the ship was sunk when it hit upon the rocks.

Meanwhile, a none-too-sober Father Malone (Hal HolbrookCreepshow, Wall Street) is in his study late at night, when a piece of the wall breaks off, and revealed beneath is the journal of one of his ancestors, also named Father Malone, who was one of the original plotters in the death of the lepers.  At the same time Father Malone finds the journal (which is during the witching-hour- 12am-1am), the rest of the town falls apart.  Car alarms go off, gas starts pumping by itself, and televisions go on by themselves.  Nick Castle (Tom AtkinsCreepshow, Halloween 3, My Bloody Valentine 3D) is driving down the road, minding his own business, and has just picked up a hitchhiker, Elizabeth, (Jamie Lee CurtisHalloween, Terror Train, Prom Night), when all the windows of his truck shatter.  We also meet radio personality Stevie Wayne (Adrienne BarbeauEscape From New York, Creepshow), the weather station man, and some fishermen.  The weatherman tells Stevie of a fog bank which is approaching the fishing boat, the “Sea Grass”, and Stevie Wayne broadcasts this.  Our fishermen do not see the fogbank at first, but it rapidly approaches.  This is not a typical fogbank, as it glows with an eerie light.  A couple of the fishermen go up to the deck of the boat, where the see a huge old-fashioned boat approaching them.  Behind them we get our first glimpse of the ghostly lepers, and death ensues…

The next day we meet the committee chairwoman (Janet LeighPsycho, The Manchurian Candidate, Halloween H20), and her assistant (Nancy LoomisHalloween, Halloween 2, Halloween 3) as they prepare for the anniversary celebration.  They go to see Father Malone, and he tells them of the ghastly deeds of the founders of Antonio Bay.  At around the same time, Tom Atkins and Jamie Lee Curtis go out and try to find the missing boat, the “Sea Grass”, they find it, and also discover one of our dead fishermen, who falls onto Jamie Lee Curtis- eeeeeek!  Stevie Wayne is also becoming nervous, because her son found a piece of driftwood on the beach, which said “Dane”, and when she brings it to the radio station, it begins to leak water, the words change to “6 must die”, and then it shorts out her electrical equipment, and starts a fire, when she puts it out, the original word “Dane” returns.

That night, the fog rolls in…………who will die?  Will our lepers get further revenge?  Will Antonio Bay succumb to the curse?

I must say that I LOVE this movie.  The first time I saw it, I remember being disappointed in it, as I did not think it was scary enough, but it has grown on me enormously.  I especially like to watch it late at night, in the dark…bonus points if there is a thunderstorm going on.  Its tone is so dark, and ominous, I can’t but feel a deep sense of dread as I watch it.  It is a slow burn of a movie, but I find the build up so suspenseful, and the music is so eerie, it adds wonderfully to the tension building.  I love the scenes of the fog slowly creeping up on the town, and I love that most of the time, our villains are obscured by the fog.  They are just shadows, and outlines….I think it works so much better to have them partially hidden from view.  Of course we do get one close up of a rotted, worm-infested face, but I don’t think we need any more than that.  It’s better left to the imagination.

“I don’t know what happened to Antonio Bay tonight.  Something came out of the fog and tried to destroy us.  In one moment, it vanished.  But if this has been anything but a nightmare, and if we don’t wake up to find ourselves safe in our beds, it could come again.  To the ships at see that can hear my voice, look across the water, into the darkness.  Look for the fog.”

The Mist (2007)

Directed by

Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile)

“Belief divides them, mystery surrounds them, but fear changes everything”

In The Mist, based on a novella by Stephen King, a group of people are trapped in a grocery store when an unearthly mist arises after a devastating storm, and brings with it terrifying creatures.

A local Maine artist, David Drayton (Thomas JaneDreamcatcher, The Punisher), his son Billy (Nathan GambleBabel, Marley & Me), and a neighbor Brent Norton (Andre BraugherPrimal Fear, City of Angels), drive into town after this devastating storm to get supplies.  As they shop, a bloody man coming running into the supermarket, terrified, and says that there is something in the mist.  At first people are skeptical, and some stay skeptical, including Brent Norton, but most believe that something awful has happened, and that there are unknown creatures out in the mist that are terribly dangerous.  The fear grows after a few deaths at the hands of these creatures.  A few groups of people form- those that don’t believe in the creatures, led by Mr. Norton, a handful of religious fanatics led by Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay HardenMystic River, Into the Wild) who believe that this is an act of God, and also a group led by David Drayton who decide finally that their only hope is to escape the grocery store.

Will they escape?  Will the religious fanatics take over and resort to blood sacrifice?  Will the creatures end up devouring them all?

This is one of my favorite Stephen King adaptations, along with Carrie, The Shining, The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption, and some others.  I think the character development in quite good, we really feel for David and his son, and we really HATE Mrs. Carmody, well at least I do.  The old woman played by Frances Sternhagen (Misery, Julie & Julia) is pretty much my favorite character, and my new hero!  I love it when she throws the can on vegetables and hits Mrs. Carmody in the head when she is babbling her fanatical/insane dialogue.  I also love that she has no mercy when it comes to these creatures, and does not hide in a corner, but rather improvises a flame thrower!  I also think the creature design is awesome, and there are some generally disturbing, nauseating scenes with the destruction these creatures wreak on these people- especially the scene in the pharmacy with the MP’s face exploding with baby spiders.

Thoughts on the double feature

Some SPOILERS may follow

–        I chose to watch these two movies as a double feature because obviously The Fog and The Mist share a similar plot of an unearthly fog/mist rolling into a town and bringing with it unearthly creatures.  In The Fog’s case it brings ghostly lepers, and in The Mist it brings creatures from an alternate dimension.

–        In each, the creatures that the fog/mist brings are caused in some way by the action of man.  In The Fog, the ghosts are coming back for revenge on those who plotted, and caused their death 100 years prior.  In The Mist, the creatures are unleashed due to the experiments at a military outpost during a project called “The Arrowhead Project”, when a portal to another dimension is somehow opened.

–        Both involve people holing up in a location to try to survive the wrath of the creatures.  In The Fog they hole up in a church, and in The Mist, they are holed up in a grocery store.

–        Both have similar lines of dialogue when they discover that the mist/fog is something dangerous.  In The Fog, Stevie Wayne cries out “There’s something in the fog!” over the radio, and in The Mist, the old man in the beginning who runs into the store (Jeffrey DeMunnThe Green Mile, Burn After Reading) cries out, “Don’t go out there.  There’s something in the mist”.

–        In the beginning of The Mist, prior to the storm, when we see David’s studio, there is a drawing based on John Carpenter’s The Thing.

–        Both movies have downer endings.  In The Fog, after we think everything is over, Blake returns to kill Father Malone.  In The Mist, when the car that David, Billy, and some others are escaping in runs out of gas, rather than be killed by the creatures, David chooses to shoot everyone, except himself because he has run out of bullets.  After he has completed his awful task, the military come to rescue everyone….super sad!

A new feature in which I will watch a double feature every Friday.  The two features will be connected in some way- by director, actor, theme, setting, etc.  I will post something on the double feature I watch- movie connections and similarities, thoughts on each…sometimes it’ll be short, sometimes long, depending on motivation/time/level of sleep deprivation, etc

I’m kicking off this new feature with a double dose of 90’s horror.  Our features tonight will be Scream and The Craft, both starring Neve Campbell and Skeet Ulrich, and both from 1996.

The Craft (1996)

Directed by Andrew Fleming (Bad Dreams, Dick)

“Relax….It’s only magic….”

In The Craft, Sarah (Robin Tunney), has just moved, and is starting at a new high school.  She catches the attention of some wannabe witches, Nancy (Fairuza Balk), Bonnie (Neve Campbell), and Rochelle (Rachel True).  Each has an issue in school- Nancy is white trash, Bonnie has burns covering a large percentage of her body, and Rochelle is discriminated against by Laura Lizzie (Christine Taylor).  After her love interest Chris (Skeet Ulrich) spreads cruel rumors about  Sarah sleeping with him, she joins the witches coven.  These four invoke the power of Manon, and each ask for something- Rochelle asks to not hate those who hate her, Bonnie asks to be beautiful outside as well as within, Sarah asks to love herself more and to be loved more by others, and Nancy asks for all the powers of Manon.  Well of course this works, and things start happening to our now actual witches.  Not everything about the wishes ends up being so great though, and Sarah decides that she needs to stop her friends, especially Nancy.  What happens next?  Well, I don’t want to spoil it for you if you’ve never seen it.

Scream (1996)

Directed by Wes Craven (The Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes, A Nightmare on Elm Street)

“Someone’s taken their love of scary movies one step too far!”

Scream was released later the same year, and also stars Neve Campbell and Skeet Ulrich, thus our double feature.  With this self-aware slasher, Wes Craven is credited with reigniting the slasher/horror genres.  In short, this movie is about a serial killer who begins targeting (mostly) teenagers in the quiet town of Woodsboro, a year after the death of Maureen Prescott, Sidney Prescott’s (Neve Campbell) mother.  A strange man is calling up his victims, and terrorizing them on the telephone.  Sidney is one of the first would-be victims, but is able to stop her attacker.  She then accuses her boyfriend Billy (Skeet Ulrich) after he appears at her window during this attack.  He is released the next day after the phone records to Sidney’s house exonerate him.  After a few murders, a curfew is imposed, and Stu (Matthew Lillard) throws a party at his parent’s house.  More murders ensue.  This whodonit/slasher/comedy is a horror movie that points out the rules of the slasher, and gives shout outs to many horror films that came before it.

Thoughts on the double feature

Some SPOILERS follow

–        Although these two movies are different sub-genres of the horror film, there are some similarities.  Obviously I chose these two because they both star Neve Campbell and Skeet Ulrich, and they were also both released in 1996

–        Skeet Ulrich appears in all his greasy hair glory, although he is much less greasy in The Craft, I suppose it is because his hair is shorter, and in each he has issues getting girls to sleep with him, and he’s kind of a jerk about it when they don’t

–        Skeet Ulrich appears outside out main characters window late at night in both.  In The Craft he just sits outside the window on a ledge, and says that he can’t stop thinking about Sarah, and in Scream, he enters Sidney’s room, and says that he was watching TV (The Exorcist) and got to thinking about his and Sidney’s relationship

–        Both take place with characters in high school, and both include a scene where our main protagonist hides in a bathroom

–        In each, the protagonist has lost her mother- In The Craft, Sarah lost her mother when she dies giving birth to her, and in Scream, Sidney’s mother was murdered

–        In each, Neve Campbell’s character has gone through some sort of traumatic experience- In The Craft she suffered severe burns, and in Scream her mother has been murdered

–        In each, there is a huge house party thrown that our characters attend

–        In each, the main villain tries to pin a murder-suicide on our protagonist.  In The Craft, Nancy tries to make it look like Sarah has killed herself, and was the one who killed Chris.  In Scream, Billy and Stu want to make it seem that Sidney’s father was the murderer, and at the end of his murder spree kills himself and Sidney in a murder-suicide (obviously neither of these plans work out)

–        In each movie poor Skeet Ulrich dies

Other random thoughts

–        In The Craft, when Sarah is braiding Laura Lizzie’s hair into Rochelle’s hair for a spell, she makes a comment about Laura having split ends, and apparently this means that she does not have natural blond hair, but instead bleaches it….ummm, what?  I wasn’t aware that having split ends means you dye your hair- I have natural blond hair AND I have split ends, but yet I have never dyed my hair…..what am I doing wrong!!!????

–        Another movie connection- This is the second movie in a row in which Robin Tunney has tried to commit suicide, although in The Craft she says that she used a kitchen knife, unlike Empire Records where she uses a pink Bic plastic razor with daisies on it….Also, according to IMDb she had to wear a wig for this movie, due to the fact that she shaved her head for Empire Records