Tag Archives: horror film

My Thoughts on: Halloween (2018)

A full year after I talked myself into watching the original Halloween (1978) and barely surviving the encounter, I finally summoned up the nerve to watch the 2018 continuation. This film essentially retcons everything that happens after the original Halloween, and while I was initially bummed that this meant that Laurie actually isn’t Michael’s long lost sister, I found I otherwise wasn’t bothered, because good lord almighty this film scared the crap out of me.

I don’t care what anyone says, Halloween (2018) is just as terrifying as the original, maybe even more so. From the moment the film starts, there’s a building tension as you’re just waiting for the moment Michael inevitably gets loose to wreak havoc once again. I really like how, for the bulk of the film, you really can’t see Michael’s real face, even though it takes some time for him to get the mask back on. However, if you know when to look, you can get brief glimpses hear and there, and then as now (because remember he’s briefly unmasked in the original film) it’s unnerving how normal he looks, aside from being blinded in one eye by Laurie of course. But once that mask comes back on…*shudders* I know there are 40 years between this film and the first one, but I swear I can’t tell the difference once the mask is on and that infernal music starts up.

I think the most terrifying moment for me in that entire film is that really long take when Michael starts his killing spree in Haddonfield (with the iconic Halloween theme playing at the same time). Watching Michael seamlessly move from house to house, just killing and wrecking lives as he goes, it feels like we’re just being helplessly pulled along in his wake.

Aside from the havoc involving Michael, which is undoubtedly my favorite part of the film, the part of the film that really pulled me in is everything to do with Laurie’s PTSD from what Michael did to her 40 years ago. This is something that I haven’t really seen covered in a horror film before: what happens to that lone survivor who gets away? Given the brutality in the first film, it’s no wonder Laurie Strode has become what we see in this film: a deeply paranoid woman (albeit a badass one) who is nowhere near recovered from the trauma she endured as a teenager. Jamie Lee Curtis’ performance is completely mesmerizing .

Quick side note: I wanted with all my might to reach through the screen and smack some sense into Laurie’s daughter Karen. I get on some level why Karen resents her mother, but the way the character came across just grated on me.

One other scene I wanted to discuss in this review and that’s THAT scene in the bathroom. I remembered seeing hints of this scene in the previews, back when I was going to be brave and watch this film in theaters (I’m so glad I didn’t, this film would’ve broken me on a big screen) and being completely terrified then. Well let me tell you the bathroom scene in full does not disappoint. The tension is almost painfully thick the moment the door opens and you just KNOW that Michael is in there with his next victim. And once the violence erupts….it just doesn’t stop. The sheer violence in Michael’s actions, it just burns into you.

And then there’s the music, oh god that music….you don’t know how happy I was that the 2018 continuation makes ample use of that iconic theme throughout the film. That, more than all of the easter eggs, really serves to bind this film to the original. Because as soon as you hear that music, that eerie theme, your brain just knows “this is a Halloween movie.” Having heard this music in two Halloween films (so far), I dare to say that this is my favorite horror movie theme, I haven’t heard one yet that instantly sends a cold chill down my spine the way the main theme for Halloween does.

Ultimately I’m glad I finally worked up the nerve to watch the 2018 Halloween. It’s a good continuation of the story, with more than enough easter eggs and nods to the original film to satisfy any fan of the original story.

Let me know what you think about Halloween (2018) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Halloween (1978)

My Thoughts on: Halloween II (1981)

My Thoughts on: Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

My Thoughts on: Halloween Kills (2021)

Film Reviews

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My Thoughts on: Candyman (1992)

I’m going to be honest right at the start and just admit that the only reason this film came on my radar at all is because I saw the trailer for the upcoming Candyman film when I went to see Spiral. That trailer intrigued me so much, I got curious and asked the Internet if I needed to see the original Candyman film first. As most of them said yes, I picked up a copy of the film, have just finished watching it and let me tell you that film is an experience I will not soon forget.

Honestly, I’m not sure where to start with Candyman, there’s so many parts of it that are incredible. I might as well start with Philip Glass’ score for the film. Had I known that Philip Glass composed the music for Candyman, I probably would’ve attempted this film years ago, as I have the highest respect for his work. This won’t surprise many of you who’ve been following my work, but the music was undoubtedly one of my favorite things about this film. It gives the story of Candyman an almost sacred feeling in some places, which is fitting given the titular character is a supernatural being and the hapless Helen is forced to join that realm by the film’s end. The thing is, I can’t imagine this film being scored any other way, that’s how good the music is! The air of solemnity it gives to the story in just the right moments, that’s what you want in film music, something that elevates the story.

Apart from the music, the story itself is equal parts enthralling and horrifying. Like, this is the stuff of my nightmares horrifying. After invoking Candyman and then attempting to disprove his legend, Helen is literally forced to watch as her life is systematically torn apart and destroyed beyond all hope of repair. The emotional angst and trauma in this film is so palpable that it will be a long time before I can watch this film again. You can feel Helen’s pain as she tries to comprehend what is happening to her. You can definitely feel Ann Marie’s pain in a scene that I found so distressing I’m scared to see what the unrated version of the scene looks like. If the goal of this film was to make me deeply uncomfortable, it worked. My mind was taken places it didn’t want to go, but the story was so compelling I literally could not look away.

And then there’s Candyman himself. I was completely mesmerized by Tony Todd’s performance as the titular character. Once he properly arrives in the film after being teased several times, you literally can’t look away whenever he’s on the screen. Between his deep voice and the sheer presence with which he plays the role of Candyman…I don’t know what to say other than I was enthralled. What really drew me in were the hints at Candyman’s hidden depths. He’s not just some random killing being, there’s a purpose to what he does and it makes a twisted amount of sense if you think about it long enough. And that scene with the bees, yes THAT scene, that pretty much put me over the edge (and that’s all I can say about that).

Was there anything I didn’t like in this film? Well, not exactly. I was uncomfortable with some of the more bloody moments, but that’s because I’m a generally squeamish person. It can’t be a complaint against the film because if I’m watching a rated R horror film, I know I’m going to be in for something messy. However, I do think that sub-plot with Helen’s husband was almost unnecessary. I kind of get why it’s in there, since it provides the final push Helen needs to realize she needs to give in to the Candyman (and it helps set up a fantastic closing sequence to the film), but it still feels like almost an afterthought given everything else going on. That’s really nitpicking though, as I loved pretty much everything else in this film.

Now that I’ve made it through the original Candyman film, I’m more excited than ever to see Nia DaCosta’s take on the story (especially since I’ve seen that Tony Todd will be in that film as well). I am also definitely adding Candyman to my list of must-see Halloween films that has slowly been growing since I managed to watch Halloween (1978) last year.

Let me know what you think about Candyman (1992) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

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My Thoughts on: Son of Frankenstein (1939)

Once I got my hands on the Universal Classic Monster 30 film collection (on blu-ray, it’s excellent and I highly recommend it), I was briefly stymied as to where I should start with so many classic horror films to choose from. And then it dawned on me: I’d already watched Frankenstein (1931) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935), it follows that I should continue the pattern with Son of Frankenstein (1939).

As the title implies, Son of Frankenstein follows the adventures of Henry Frankenstein’s eldest son Wolf (an almost neurotic Basil Rathbone), a plot development likely necessitated by the death of Colin Clive two years earlier in 1937. There is, however, a delightful homage to the actor in the form of a gorgeous oil painting that hangs in the main hall of Castle Frankenstein. In a way then, Clive literally looms over the story, though he is not physically present. I also like that the film reveals, in part, what happened to Henry after Bride of Frankenstein. Far from getting off scot-free in regards to creating these monsters, it seems that the truth came out and Henry spent the rest of his life shunned by the community and deep down never gave up his dreams of creating life. Unfortunately, one can only imagine what Clive would have brought to a third Frankenstein film, but these homages and references really are a nice touch.

In a further nod to continuity, Frankenstein’s laboratory is in ruins from the explosion that decimated it in the conclusion of Bride of Frankenstein (we’re meant to forget the fact that the building was completely demolished at the end of that film). Wolf Frankenstein has returned with his family in an attempt to make a new life there, but due to all the events with Frankenstein’s monster, the welcome is less than warm. Matters become unbelievably complicated when the hideous Ygor (Bela Lugosi in a brilliant performance) reveals to Wolf that the Monster is in fact alive, but injured. For the record, I believe these injuries are why the Monster can no longer speak (having learned to do so in Bride of Frankenstein).

This is the first Frankenstein film I saw that made it perfectly clear where Young Frankenstein (the Mel Brooks spoof) got a big chunk of its source material from (The Ghost of Frankenstein being the other). There’s something that makes it different from the two films that came before it, and I’m still struggling to put a finger on exactly what it is. Basil Rathbone, as I mentioned before, puts in a somewhat neurotic performance as Wolf Frankenstein, but it’s still an enjoyable performance, especially as you watch him get drawn into his father’s work bit by bit.

And speaking of Wolf….Son of Frankenstein has an unintentionally hilarious (at least I think it’s unintentional) moment where Wolf basically gives the Monster a complete physical in order to find out how he functions. There’s something surreal about watching the Monster’s blood pressure get taken, blood drawn, X-rays given, just like he’s a normal person (though one can argue the Monster is hardly normal). It’s also interesting, by the way, to watch Wolf and the Monster interact. When they first meet, I think it’s implied that the Monster mistakenly believes Wolf to be his father, hence his initial reaction to strangle Wolf. And then, most interesting, the Monster stops mid-action, as if it dawns on him that “this isn’t my creator, this is someone else.” It’s one of my favorite moments in the entire film.

I was also surprised to learn that THIS is the film where Ygor first appears. I grew up believing that Ygor was always a part of the Frankenstein story but that is simply not true. In the book, Frankenstein has no assistant at all, and in the first film his assistant is named Fritz. It’s well worth the wait though to finally see Ygor. Bela Lugosi is brilliant as the hunchbacked friend of the monster with a hideously disformed neck (they tried to hang him but it didn’t stick). I still haven’t figured out yet if I like Ygor or hate him, because Lugosi plays him so well, you’re not sure what to think about him.

One other detail I have to mention that is the presence of Wolf’s son Peter (Donnie Dunagan). First of all, cool trivia point: if Donnie’s voice sounds familiar that’s because he’s the voice of young Bambi in the 1942 film of the same name. He’s so adorable, and I love how any time he enters the scene, all the action briefly pivots to center on him (he was all of 4 at the time). Peter is also part of my second favorite scene in the film, when he innocently tells his father about the “friendly giant” that’s been visiting him in his bedroom (re: the Monster). The moment when little Peter imitates the Monster’s walk (making it crystal clear whose been visiting him), complete with a snipped of the Monster’s musical theme, is one of my favorite moments in the film, not least because of the complete panic in Wolf’s reaction to it.

Son of Frankenstein is, unfortunately, not quite up to the level of Frankenstein or Bride of Frankenstein, but it remains an enjoyable film, the last to feature Boris Karloff in the role of Frankenstein’s Monster. I would recommend watching this film once you make your way through the first two Frankenstein films.

Let me know what you think about Son of Frankenstein in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Frankenstein (1931)

My Thoughts on: Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

My Thoughts on: The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)

Film Reviews

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Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

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My Thoughts on: Halloween (1978)

*deep breath* I did it. I’m scared out of my mind but I did it, I watched the original Halloween from beginning to end without stopping.

I should explain: I’ve had a fixation with horror/slasher movies for years, by which I mean I’m fascinated by them but I’ve always been too scared to watch them (being the kind that scares quite easily). However, this year, with everything that’s been going on in the world, I decided that now was the perfect time to dive in and check out some of the films that I’ve always been too scared to try in the past (YOLO right?). The original Halloween seemed like the perfect place to start (and also like the one I’d be most likely to get through given my other options were A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th).

If you haven’t seen it, Halloween is the first film to feature the silent killer Michael Myers (Nick Castle), who might be the Boogeyman given how callous he is when it comes to killing people. Fifteen years after committing a brutal murder (in a first person sequence that had me scared to death), Michael escapes from an asylum to return to the scene of the crime…and it’s on Halloween night. Michael is pursued by his doctor, Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance), who hopes to stop Michael before it’s too late. Unfortunately, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is in for a Halloween she will never forget.

I knew going in that I’d be scared, but my God…..from the moment the film started I was neck deep in a sea of tension. And why? Because of that iconic music!!! You know what I’m talking about: that spooky piano melody that permeates the film. As soon as I hear it, it sends chills up my spine and puts me completely on edge. And that music can start at ANY time, you never know when it’s going to start up again, and it just makes things so scary! Speaking of music, I was also spooked by the sudden “moan” that comes into the music whenever Michael lunges out for the kill. It’s almost just as terrifying as the iconic theme. This is definitely one of those films where the music 100% contributes to the terror.

Despite this feeling, it actually takes most of the film for things to get messy (i.e. violent). Except, by that point (when Michael finally comes after Laurie), the tension has become completely unbearable. By this point (when Laurie finds out what’s happened to her friends), I’ve been watching Michael stalk (and kill) for over an hour, and I’m thoroughly spooked. So much so, in fact, that when Michael’s face slowly appears out of a darkened doorway behind Laurie, I swear to God I nearly screamed in terror. THAT is how you do a scary horror movie, build the tension to by-God-unimaginable levels of terror and then turn the scary killer loose on whoever’s left standing. I’m not sure I’ll be able to sleep tonight, but by God I can admit when a film is well done, and that was well done indeed! (Also, I had no idea the sound of breathing could be made to sound so scary!)

Donald Pleasance is a joy to watch in this film. The way he talks about Michael speaks volumes about the silent character, how soulless and evil he is. Which is quite helpful since, as Michael himself never speaks, we have no way of knowing anything about him other than what Dr. Loomis tells us. I think what got to me the most though, was how calm Dr. Loomis was about it all, like he expected all of this would happen sooner or later. Then again, there was a pretty blatant hint about “unescapable fate” early in the film….

I identify so strongly with Laurie Strode it scared me to death. Like Laurie, I was the goody-two-shoes who focused on her studies, babysat, and wasn’t really interested in boys. I could easily see myself in her place and it was scaaaaary (particularly when Laurie was hiding in the closet). Even though I knew Laurie would come out of this alive (I always read plot summaries for films that I know will scare me so I know where most of the jump scares are), the film does such a good job of making it scary that I was freaked out the whole time.

Honestly, I have no idea how I’m going to sleep soundly tonight. I haven’t been this scared in I don’t know how long. Halloween was just as scary as I always thought it would be, but it wasn’t quite for the reasons I thought. The terror comes from the tension and anticipation of what Michael will do, less on what he actually does (although that’s just as scary too).

Am I glad I watched Halloween? Ultimately, yes, yes I am. I got through it, and even though I was really scared I didn’t turn it off. Will I be watching the movie again anytime soon? Ehh…..I wouldn’t hold my breath on that (it’ll probably be a yearly thing….maybe). I am really proud of myself though, for finally watching what everyone told me was an iconic horror film (and they were right!)

Let me know what you think about Halloween in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Halloween II (1981)

My Thoughts on: Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

My Thoughts on: Halloween (2018)

My Thoughts on: Halloween Kills (2021)

Film Reviews

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook