Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween is pretty much the same as the previous Goosebumps movie. Despite the first one’s success, making a sequel seemed unnecessary. How exactly do you top having every single monster all at once? Well by having every monster all at once… again. Only this time with a slightly different explanation. Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween is sort of like the series in how it now follows a new set of characters. This time with the trope of a brother/sister duo and their black best friend. Things start to go in a different direction when Slappy the Dummy is the first one to be brought back. Along with some of his backstory from the book “Night of the Living Dummy.” It’s probably the most interesting thing about Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween. Until they decide to just do the first movie all over again. Only the monsters aren’t entirely R.L. Stine monsters. Speaking of R.L. Stine, he’s barely in the movie. Slappy may sound like Jack Black, but it’s actually his non-union equivalent. I’m guessing he was too busy to film a larger role. Which is what’s missing from the movie. Not that Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween doesn’t still offer plenty spooky fun to keep kids entertained. Happy Halloween!
R.L. Stine’s monsters come to life
Preceded by: Goosebumps
Goosebumps is the most successful children’s horror series ever written. Written by author R.L. Stine, there are 62 books in his original series and 231 books overall. All that success eventually lead to a TV series. Which lasted for 4 seasons as an anthology series. Since all the books are short and can fit an episodes length. I wasn’t a big reader as a kid, but I did watch one or two episodes here or there (though I did binge the entire series afterwards). Enough to be puzzled when they announced they were making a movie. I wasn’t sure what that meant exactly since each story followed a different set of kids facing a different monster in every book. So there solution was to fit every monster in all at once. And somehow it works very well. Goosebumps follows the trope of a kid moving into a new town. He just lives with his mom, makes a quirky best friend, and falls for the girl next door. But it turns out his new neighbor is actually the author himself R.L. Stine (played by a seldom seen Jack Black). All the Goosebumps monsters come out when it turns out that every book he’s written is real. One monster in particular makes it so they never have to go back again. Slappy the Dummy, the poster child for the entire series since ventriloquist dummies are creepy. Goosebumps is a fun occasionally frightening ride that’s perfect for children and grown up fans like myself.
Followed by: Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween
Teen Wolf Too is beat for beat the exact same story as Teen Wolf. Right down to the KFC product placement. Since Michael J. Fox was either too busy or uninterested, a young Jason Bateman plays Scott’s cousin. With only his father, coach, best friend, and chubby friend returning. Teen Wolf Too once again takes its protagonist through an unexpected wolf transformation. Followed by a him becoming popular, excelling at a specific sport, winning over a popular girl, becoming a jerk, proving he can win on his own, and ending up with the girl he should have been with since the beginning. Every single thing from the original is there with little differences. Like changing the setting to a college and the sport to boxing. Without Michael J. Fox’s charm, nothing about Teen Wolf Too is worth the look. Jason Bateman doesn’t quite hit the mark yet. Not that the original Teen Wolf was all that great to begin with. It’s just surprising that it lead to a mediocre sequel, a forgotten animated series, and a hugely popular MTV series.
Preceded by: Teen Wolf
Teen Wolf is all about a teenager’s changing body. He notices his voice is changing, he has terrible urges, and hair where there was no hair before. And I ain’t talking about puberty. Scott Howard is a werewolf teenager, a teen wolf if you will. Unlike most werewolf legends or movies, Scott isn’t cursed to murder innocent people. Teen Wolf is a cheesy 80’s comedy where wolves aren’t animalistic killers. Instead Scott is just your average basketball playing loser who wants to impress a popular girl. Even though there’s a perfectly good girl in front of him. Scott’s werewolfism is treated more like a biological condition. When people do find out about it, they’re noticeably shocked, but then everybody accepts him when they see he’s become a better ball player. Things like that make Teen Wolf almost too ridiculous to take seriously, but luckily Michael J. Fox makes it work. Teen Wolf came out the same year as Back to the Future and while I do prefer latter, the former does have its moments. One of its most infamous involving a guy with his fly open. Teen Wolf is a comedy you can choose to sink your teeth into or not.
Scott plays basketball
Followed by: Teen Wolf Too
An American Werewolf in London is one of many werewolf movies released in 1981 (The Howling and Wolfen being the other two), but it’s the biggest standout. Though a relatively straightforward werewolf movie, (man gets bit, man turns into wolf, wolf kills people, man wants to die) An American Werewolf in London is still just as good as the original Wolf Man. Two young American backpackers travel through the English countryside. Only to end up in a pub called the Slaughtered Lamb. The people there warn them to stay on the road and to avoid the moon. Of course they don’t listen and Jack ends up being killed by what turns out to be a werewolf. Leaving David alone in London with a bite. An American Werewolf boasts impressive makeup effects and a lot of dark comedy. The most standout scene is when David transforms for the first time. Showing it to be an unpleasant painful process. The scene was so groundbreaking that John Landis used it again in Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” The humor is present mostly whenever Jack’s corpse shows up. Along with a lack of silver, the biggest difference with traditional werewolf mythology is the werewolf’s victims being undead. An American Werewolf in London is definitely the best bloody violent romantic comedy I’ve seen.
David transforms into a werewolf
The Witch, often written as THE VVITCH (although I am unsure of what the double “V” means), is a horror film that affects thee on a spiritual level. I am even now uncertain of what my takeaway is presumed to be. Particularly as a christian. The Witch takes place in the 1600’s. Following a family of devout christians from a Puritan plantation. Starring Anya Taylor-Joy in her scream queen debut as Thomasin. She is the eldest daughter who is blamed for a series of misfortunes that befall the family. Which in the fullness of time leads to the accusation that she is the witch that dwells in the forest. A witch that is not seen too often, despite what the title may suggest. Though there is a goat named Black Phillip. The Witch has been compared to the likes of The Exorcist, The Omen, and Rosemary’s Baby. In light of the ending, that wouldst not be a far-off comparison. The ending is in certainty what leaves me with mixed emotions on how the film handles faith. There has been a number of discussions by critics on whether ’tis portrayed in fairness or unjustly. Although I think ye all can agree that the idea of witches is synonymous with evil. The Witch is an A24 horror film that plays on a fear thou canst always see. Making it one of the eeriest selections to come forth from this decade.
Thomasin plays peek-a-boo
The Witches paints witches in a terrifying light. Unlike vampires or werewolves, witches never seem to have an official set of rules. Apart from being magical women that may or may not be ugly. The only constant seems to be their hatred for children. The Witches is the last movie I saw based on a book by Roald Dahl (released the year of his death). It also somehow holds the rare distinction of a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Not that it isn’t very effective. The Witches follows a 9 year old boy who lives with his grandma. She knows everything there is to know about witches. How they’re naturally bald, with square feet, and hate the smell of children. They move to a hotel where the boy encounters a coven of witches. Lead by the Grand High Witch, creepily played by Angelica Houston. It’s a good thing I didn’t watch The Witches at a young age, because when the witches take off their disguises it’s so very disturbing. The Grand High Witch’s appearance is almost too disgusting. Which is of course the point. The Witch’s plan is downright evil, as they plan to turn all children into mice, and then step on them. Although Jim Henson’s puppetry on the mice is as impressive as always. The Witches is one of the creepiest movies ever to be considered for children.
The Grand High Witch
Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li is the exact opposite of the first Street Fighter. In the way that it’s not even trying to honor its source material. Everything in the movie resembles a bad martial arts movie with the most generic revenge story you can think of. Now all the focus is on Chun-Li. Who only wears her blue outfit and two sided bun once in the entire movie! Most of the time she just looks like Kristin Kreuk using kung-fu. Chun-Li is also known for her strong leg based attacks and Kristin Kreuk’s legs are way too skinny. I loved her on Smallville, but she’s very miscast in this. Speaking of miscast characters, Neal McDonough is M. Bison in name only. I don’t even know what they were thinking with him. Michael Clarke Duncan is a more physically imposing Balrog, but without the boxing gloves you couldn’t tell its him. Charlie Nash and Crimson Viper suck as well. Without the names and concepts that tie it to the video game, you could honestly be watching any random action movie. Making Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li one of the weakest attempts at a video game movie ever.
Chun-Li (left) dances with Cantana (right)
Street Fighter is Capcom’s flagship video game franchise. Due to its fast-paced fighting aesthetic and international characters. It also happens to be the third live action video game movie released. Although unlike what came before, Street Fighter doesn’t leave a single character out. Seriously, every single playable character plays a part in the movie. Guile, the All-American war hero. So of course he’s played by Belgium martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme. M. Bison, the villainous dictator. Played by Raul Julia in what is sadly his final performance. Though he’s actually the best thing about the entire movie. Chun-Li, the Chinese fighter with a personal connection to Bison. Played by Ming-Na Wen in one of her more well known roles. There’s also Ken and Ryu (resorted to a supporting character). Cammy, Dhalsim, Zangief, Balrog, Blanka, Dee Jay, T. Hawk, Vega, E. Honda, and Sagat. All with some kind of subplot in the movie. Like most video game movies, Street Fighter suffers from a ridiculous tone and an overstuffed plot. A plot that’s just your average world domination storyline. With almost no street fighting for a movie called Street Fighter. But that didn’t stop it from gaining cult status due to those problems. Making Street Fighter a nonsensical button masher. “Of course!”
The Street Fighters strike a pose
The Darkest Minds is basically just a blend of every YA cliché under the sun. In this day in age, Young Adult novels are all the rage. The same can be said for their movie adaptations. They either work (with every book in the series getting adapted) or they don’t (one and done). The trailer for The Darkest Minds certainly peaked my interest. Most of the marketing pushed it as an X-Men style YA thriller. I didn’t read the book, but the movie doesn’t seem too different. The Darkest Minds centers on a girl named Ruby Daly (played by Rue from The Hunger Games). After an event wipes out most of the population’s children. The only surviving children develop superpowers. Green – high intelligence, Blue – telekinesis, Gold – create electricity, Red – manipulate fire, Orange – mind control. These powers are shown when their eyes turn that color. Obviously Ruby is an Orange, and therefore dangerous, but misunderstood. She eventually winds up with a group of kids looking for some sort of safe haven. You’re probably already picking up on all the clichés I mentioned. A young female protagonist, “unique” character names, factions, everything has a nickname, an evil government, a rebellion, a love triangle, you name it, it’s probably there. I didn’t really have confidence in the movie, but I showed minimal interest enough to go see it by myself. In the end, The Darkest Minds Never Fade In the Afterlight will never see the light of day with a movie this copy and paste.
Ruby joins the fight