Boo!🎃

Happy Halloween everyone! Trick ‘r Treat has Halloween written all over it. Which is why I chose to review it for today. As Halloween movies go, this one is filled with candy, costumes, and jack-o’-lanterns. It’s also filled with a bunch of horror tropes that any fan will enjoy. Trick ‘r Treat was actually a direct-to-video movie. Which is ashame, because the movie is much better than most movies released exclusively on video. It’s also an anthology film. So I’m going to review each storyline separately.

Opening – The film opens with a couple who’ve just come home from a Halloween festival. The wife makes the mistake of blowing out a jack-o’-lantern before midnight. The best thing about this story is how well it sets up the movie. It sets up the horror and underlined humor that the rest of the movie does well.

“The Principle” – The first story follows an unassuming principal who hides a dark secret. One involving trick-or-treaters and candy. The best thing about this story is Dylan Baker’s performance. I would easily call him the best character in the movie. This storyline is definitely the most humorous.

“The School Bus Massacre Revisited” –  The second story is about a group of kids who visit the site where a bunch of kids drowned in a bus crash. They use jack-o’-lanterns as an offering to lure out the ghosts of the kids. The kids (one in particular) are rather likeable. The story within a story even sounds like a real urban legend. This storyline has the most clever mystery element.

“Surprise Party” – The third story details a group of teenage girls going to a bonfire party. Anna Paquin plays a virgin dressed as Red Riding Hood who attends the party. This story has one of the more shocking outcomes. I won’t say what happens, but lets just say it involves werewolves. This storyline easily covers a horror movies much needed sex appeal.

“Meet Sam” – The fourth and final story is the one that finally addresses who that creepy trick-or-treater in the burlap sack is. A character who appears periodically throughout every character’s storyline. He terrorizes an old man (played by Brian Cox) in his house. Which leads to a one on one fight between both characters. This storyline gives us the best suspense.

In Conclusion, Trick ‘r Treat has humor, mystery, sexuality, and suspense. All the elements of a great horror movie. Each storyline is told in a nonlinear way. So every story happens at the same time, but in different perspectives. The film also makes great use of comic book visuals. Trick ‘r Treat is a Halloween movie that you should definitely check out. Happy Halloween, stay safe!

Sam sits by a Jack-O’-Lantern

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Which Witch is Which?

Hocus Pocus is likely Disney’s most well remembered Halloween movie. It wasn’t well received at first, but over time it gained a cult following. Unlike most people my age, I didn’t grow up watching Hocus Pocus. Though I always saw TV spots for it as part of Freeform’s (then ABC Family) “13 Nights of Halloween.” Which makes sense considering the movie has Halloween written all over it. Eventually I did watch Hocus Pocus years later and I had mixed feelings about it. The story is your typical 90’s kids movie set up. A boy and his family move to a strange new town were he immediately gets bullied and forms a crush on a local girl. The inevitable supernatural threat is a coven of witch sisters who threatened the town of Salem years back. The performances of the witches are a clear highlight. Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and the other one (just kidding, Kathy Najimy) are all acting as over-the-top as possible. As a Disney movie, it’s a little mature. They use the word virgin a lot, which is weird for a kids movie. But at least there’s a talking cat and a poppy rendition of “I Put a Spell on You.” Hocus Pocus nevertheless works as a fun nonsense Halloween movie. One that many fans will enjoy watching every October.

Mary (left), Winnie (center), and Sarah Sanderson (right)

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P.S. This review is written in reverse.

Leonard displays a picture of a car

It’s unforgettable. All those reasons are why Memento is a must watch. I shouldn’t give away the ending, let’s just say it’s brilliant. It’s one of those movies that’s a different experience the second time you watch it. You’ll be totally surprised the first time you watch. The reason, I believe, it was filmed in reverse was to make you as confused as Leonard is. His goal is to track down the man who killed his wife and caused his amnesia. He uses polaroid pictures and tattooed messages in order to help him remember. Which means he’s unable to make new memories. Leonard has anterograde amnesia. With shots in between showing the main character Leonard making a phone call. Entire scenes last for about 5 minutes and then the next scene explains what happened before that. Instead, the movie starts at the end and works its way to the beginning. Not exactly. Are characters going to walk backwards and speak backwards? I thought how could a movie be done in reverse. When my mom first told me about Memento, I was a little confused. Or at least Christopher Nolan’s best film until The Dark Knight and Inception. Memento is arguably Christopher Nolan’s best film.

Movie in Reverse

The Spirit of the Forest

Princess Mononoke is Anime’s answer to environmentalism. The movie kept coming up in lists of environmental movies. So since I’d seen a lot of Hayao Miyazaki movies, I figured I should watch it. It’s the standard industry vs nature premise. Only with spirits and giant animals. Unlike the other movies, Princess Mononoke is PG-13. There are some pretty graphic scenes of dismemberment and blood shed. Making the movie a lot more intense than I’m used to. I did expect a creatively different fantasy world though. With characters who blur the line between good and bad. Princess Mononoke is equal parts simple and complicated. Always remember to respect nature.

San (human) tends to Moro’s (wolf) wound

Heads or Tails?

Call it, friend-o. No Country for Old Men is the movie that finally earned the Coen brothers a Best Director(s) Oscar. Which is good, because it’s probably their Magnum Opus. No Country for Old Men is the fourth (and so far last) Coen brothers movie I saw. Its story is not the kind that usually wins Best Picture, but it does everything right. No Country for Old Men is about three different men. Llewelyn, a hunter who comes across a suitcase filled with money. Chigurh, the psychopath trying to kill him and take the money. And Sheriff Bell, an aging officer trying to track them down. No Country for Old Men is a cat-and-mouse game with a lot of tense moments. Quiet moments that will keep you on edge the entire time. Javier Bardem delivers a particularly disturbing performance as Chigurh. Easily one of the best villains of the decade. He flips a coin, uses an air-powered captive bolt pistol, and has a bizarre pageboy haircut. He’s unique to say the least. No Country for Old Men is unique and one of the best thrillers you can see.

“Would you hold still please, sir?”

Hey Malkovich, Think Fast!

Being John Malkovich is probably the weirdest movie ever made. I mean who comes up with an idea like this. I’ll attempt to explain it, but you’ll just have to hear me out. A struggling puppeteer (hear me out) named Craig finds work at an office. This particular office is on floor 7½, (hear me out) which has a very low ceiling. Eventually, Craig discovers a hidden door in the building that’s a portal into the mind of actor John Malkovich (hear me out). You get to spend 15 minutes as him (hear me out) until you’re ejected from the New Jersey turnpike. Like I said, the movie is extremely weird, but trust me it gets weirder. Craig’s wife Lotte becomes obsessed with the process and develops feelings for a woman named Maxine whom Craig is also attracted to. Leading to one of the weirdest love triangles in movie history. Being John Malkovich was always written with John Malkovich in mind. However, it could have been a different actor if he said no. I couldn’t imagine anyone else in the role though. John Cusack and Cameron Diaz are both made to look unattractive. Catherine Keener who plays Maxine actually got an Oscar nomination. Despite its weirdness, Being John Malkovich earned a lot of acclaim. You really have to see it to believe it.

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John Malkovich enters his own mind

I Have a Theory

The Theory of Everything is a movie I’ve been expecting for a long time. Ever since I discovered Stephen Hawking on The Simpsons, I thought his story would make a good movie. Stephen Hawking is a fairly well known figure whom I felt needed a movie. In case you’re unfamiliar, Stephen Hawking is considered the smartest man alive. He’s stricken to a wheelchair and is only able to speak through a computer. The Theory of Everything chronicles his life from before and after he was diagnosed with ALS. I learned a few things I didn’t know from watching. I didn’t realize Stephen Hawking (a nerdy physicist) was married not once, but twice! Plus it didn’t occur to me that he was British. The computer’s voice is American so I figured he was American. Stephen Hawking may be a smart man, but he’s dumb when it comes to not believing in God. I’ve never understood how most scientists would think that. The movie does get into that quite a bit. Eddie Redmayne got an Oscar for his portrayal. He perfectly portrayed Hawking’s slowly losing all his motor functions. The Theory of Everything is a very well put together film. I hope I didn’t offend anyone with my opinion.

Stephen Hawking writes his theory

Pray for Mojo

From the late great zombie king George A. Romero. Monkey Shines taps into our fear of helplessness. When an athlete gets struck by a truck, he becomes a quadriplegic as a result of surgery. A friend recommends he use a helper monkey. Little does he know, his friend has been experimenting on the monkey. The monkey named Ella, becomes attached to her master and attacking his enemies. When I first heard about this movie, I thought it would be silly. It was actually more terrifying then I thought it would be. I couldn’t imagine living life without the use of my body. There’s also an obvious moral about not performing experiments on animals. So if you ever wanted to be afraid of a monkey, Monkey Shines is the movie for you.

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Ella (monkey) holds a knife up to Allan (human)

Killer Car

Christine proves that Stephen King can make anything scary. Even a 1958 Plymouth Fury. Christine centers on a geeky teenager who buys a broken down car that he spends time fixing up. Little does he or anyone else know, the car is pure evil. It ends up having a corrupting influence on him. Causing the car to run over all his enemies. I wouldn’t call Christine my top favorite Stephen King movie, but it’s not without its creep factor. The thought of a possessed car that can’t be destroyed is pretty terrifying. Unless the car has you cornered in an alleyway (just jump over the car!). Christine wasn’t met with glowing reviews, but it has achieved a cult status. It also happens to be a John Carpenter movie. Which is a testament to his horror range. If you’re curious to see how a car can be scary, then give Christine a watch.

Christine the killer car

Rise of the NS-5

I, Robot is one of very few original movies that I went to the theaters to see. Or at least, being a movie that I was old enough to decide to see. Will Smith was one of my favorite actors growing up. Plus I love robots. The combination of both seemed perfect. I, Robot is set in the year 2035, where robots have become an integral part of society. Will Smith plays a homicide detective named Spooner, who investigates a murder that may have been committed by a robot. Alan Tudyk plays the robot suspect named Sonny (in a brilliant motion capture performance). I, Robot is based on a famous short story by Issac Asimov. I’m pretty sure the movie barely connects with the book. Except for the use of the “Three Laws of robotics.”

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

  2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

I think the movie works pretty well as a blockbuster action movie. More than it does a thought provoking thriller. The future they’ve created is pretty cool. I especially liked their interpretation of hover cars and hands free phones. But the robots are the real star of the movie. They’re humanoid with white translucent faces and bodies. I, Robot may be lost on most people, but I do find myself watching it occasionally.

Det. Spooner (human) searches for the missing NS-5 (robot)