"I buried my friend the other day, and I saw my life in a different way." -Life of Agony/Words and Music

Most of the horror icons of the 80s — Jason, Michael Myers, and so forth — were cut from the same fabric. They were big and mean and, for the most part, silent. They rarely spoke, and when they did it wasn’t to crack jokes. Freddy Krueger was the first of the pack to break that mold. In the original Nightmare on Elm Street he was mostly just evil, but with the second film came “You’ve got the body, and I’ve got the brains!” (as he peeled back the top of his own head), and by the time part 3 rolled around he was uttering an evil catch phrase with each murder. (My favorite was when he said “Welcome to prime time!” right before shoving a girl’s face through a television.) Soon after there were dozens of copycat murderers hacking their way through slasher films, doing bad things while offering up bad puns. A match made in Hollywood, for sure.

1997’s Jack Frost begins with the demise of a serial killer named Jack Frost. On the way to his execution, Frost escapes, only to get blasted with an unknown chemical as part of an auto accident. The chemical (which we later learn is experimental genetic chemicals) physically bond’s Jack Frost’s soul with the snow, turning him into a wise-cracking killer snowman.

Jack Frost vowed revenge on Sheriff Sam Tiler, the man responsible for his capture. Frost makes his way back to Snowmonton (ugh) to get his revenge against the Sheriff. By all counts, Frost has the upper hand: he moves silently, he has the ability to melt and reform a’la Terminator 2, and he comes armed with a few weapons and even more bad puns. I’ll give you three guesses what happens right before Jack Frost says, “I only axed you for a smoke…”

After “the world’s most pissed off snow cone” begins hacking his way through town (killing several locals along the way), Frost finally makes it to the police station to face off against the Sheriff, his deputy, and a couple of yahoos from the chemical company who have been posing as FBI agents. The sheriff’s initial plan is to melt Jack Frost, which seems dumb as both we and they have seen Frost melt and reassemble at will. At one point the faux-FBI agents try shooting at water puddles. They even blow up the police station in an attempt to melt Jack Frost, which they learn the hard way won’t work. Frost quickly assembles himself, although he doesn’t look quite right for a bit.

“Look ma, I’m a Picasso!” -Jack Frost

After unconventional weapons fail the cops turn to hair dryers and antifreeze, which work to an extent although knowing there’s a Jack Frost 2 out there (and a third one was planned) makes their solution seem temporary at best.

With a couple of beers and the right friends, Jack Frost might be one of the best worst movies I’ve seen in quite some time. If you’re going in expecting horror or dialogue or anything to make sense, keep on sledding. if you’re looking for a movie about an evil snowman armed with killer icicles and an amorous carrot, boy did you hit the jackpot.

(This review is a part of my month-long October 2014 A-Z Horror Reviews.)


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Black humor. It’s not for everyone.

In 1999’s Idle Hands, a perpetually stoned teenager named Anton Tobias murders his parents. When his two stoner friends (Mick and Pnub) discover what he has done, he murders them too. It is soon revealed that Anton’s hand has a mind of its own, and soon it wants to kill the love of Anton’s life, Molly. Unable to stop his hand from killing, Anton severs it from his body. Unfortunately this does little more than free it; now, Anton, Mick, and Pnub must stop the hand from killing Molly before it’s too late.

And yes, I included Mick and Pnub. Despite the fact that Anton’s possessed hand stabbed a broken beer bottle into Mick’s forehead and cut Pnub’s head clean off with a well-thrown saw blade, the two of them return from the grave and help Anton in his quest.

Unfortunately the more the writers try to explain why all of this is happening, the worse they make things. We don’t need to know why Anton’s hand is doing these things and frankly the little backstory we get about a high druid priestess chasing a spirit that inhabits only the most worthless of individuals just leads to (a lot) more questions. I wish they hadn’t bothered. The film is funny enough with Mick and Pnub wandering around like undead versions of Bill and Ted while Anton bumbles his way through his quest. Spending brain cycles wondering why any of this is happening is a waste of time.

The special effects in Idle Hands were impressive. Obviously a substantial chunk of the film’s $25 million dollar budget went toward animating Pdub’s severed head and Anton’s wandering hand. In theaters the film earned $4 million. I’m sure more killings took place in the boardroom after the closing credits rolled.

I liked Idle Hands. While the violence is cartoony (Mick reattaches Pnub’s severed head to his body with a meat skewer and a roll of duct tape), the language and drug use would keep me from letting my kids watch it. I didn’t jump while watching the film but I did laugh more than once, which makes Idle Hands better than the film’s 16% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes implies.

(This review is a part of my month-long October 2014 A-Z Horror Reviews.)


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The last time I saw Motley Crue perform live was January 3rd, 1990. I was sixteen years old, and the band was touring in support of their fifth album, Dr. Feelgood.

After 33 years together as a band, in 2014 Motley Crue announced their farewell tour and publicly signed a contract stating that they would no longer tour together as a band after 2015. While many bands have announced “farewell tours” only to renege later (KISS’s farewell tour was in 2000; they played Tulsa last month), I’m taking the Crue at their word here and assuming this is the last time I will ever have the opportunity to see Vince and his buddies Sixx, Mick, and Tom perform live.

For their farewell tour Motley Crue brought along “very special guest” Alice Cooper as an opening act. Alice Cooper is 66 years old and I did not expect much from his show. I was wrong. Despite the fact that most members of his touring band weren’t even born when Alice first took the stage, they performed each song as if it were their own. (Lead guitarist Nita Strauss was born in 1986, the same year Alice Cooper released his sixteenth studio album, Constrictor).

It was great to finally see the father of shock rock and the predecessor of Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie do his thing on stage. Throughout the show we got to see Alice Cooper strapped into a straightjacket and tortured by a demented nurse, electrocuted, and ultimately, beheaded in a guillotine. After Cooper was “electrocuted,” the band was joined by a ten-foot-tall monster. Check out this “not from our show but it looked just like this” clip. Jump to the 2:15 mark for the good part.

I was disappointed that the band didn’t play anything from Raise Your Fist and Yell (my favorite Alice Cooper album) but they certainly ran through Alice Cooper’s most classic material.

Alice Cooper Setlist

Hello Hooray
No More Mr. Nice Guy
Under My Wheels
I’m Eighteen
Billion Dollar Babies
Poison
Dirty Diamonds
Welcome to My Nightmare
Feed My Frankenstein
Ballad of Dwight Fry
Killer
I Love the Dead
School’s Out (with “Another Brick In The Wall”)

After roughly 30 minutes, Motley Crue took the stage, opening the show with the title track from the latest (2008) album, Saints of Los Angeles. People cheered not for the song but for the band. This was our last time to see Motley Crue perform live. People wanted the band to rip through their entire discography, and that’s exactly what they did. The band didn’t waste any time playing less popular songs from “those years,” completely omitting all material from 1994’s Motley Crue (1994), Generation Swine (1997), and New Tattoo (2000). Instead they stuck with their biggest hits, giving the crowd exactly what they wanted.

There were three breaks in the action. The first was Tommy Lee’s drum solo, an event that has been evolving since the early 90s. Back then, Lee’s drum kit would spin 360 degrees as he played to the crowd. For the farewell tour, his entire drum kit is connected to a roller coaster track that carries him out into the audience as it spins him 360 degrees. Gimmicky, decadent, and over the top? You’ve just described Motley Crue.

I wouldn’t watch this entire clip, but you should watch the first minute of it.

The second break in the show came from Nikki Sixx, who asked the entire crowd to sit down and get ready for story time. Sixx spent the next five minutes telling the story of Motley Crue; how the band members met, how they struggled, and what decisions we all made to get us all in that arena at that time. It was pretty deep. Moments later he strapped on a bass guitar with a built-in flamethrower and shot fire over the crowd as 20,000 people pumped their fists in the air and screaming “Shout at the Devil” at the tops of their lungs.

The final break in the show was Mick Mars’ guitar solo. Mick Mars’ health has seriously been on the decline for the past decade, but you wouldn’t have known it from last night. Note for note, Mars ripped through every song and every solo, nailing every note. Unfortunately, and maybe it was where we were sitting, but his solo sounded like a muddled mess to us. The stage amps were in competition with the house speakers, causing enough of a delay to make the whole thing sound like muddy noise. The guy can still shred though.

Vince Neil did what Vince Neil does, running around the stage, hitting most of the words while working the crowd. Perhaps it’s nostalgia that makes him sound better than he really is at this point. If you’re going to see the band perform one last time you need to see it perform with all four original members and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

As the show closed and the band made their way through their biggest single (“Home Sweet Home”), a slideshow of pictures (starting with the guys’ high school yearbook photos) was projected on to a screen and I have to admit I got a little teary eyed. I have followed this band for as long as they’ve been a band and saying goodbye, as silly as it sounds, felt like saying goodbye to an old friend, a real friend.

As the lights came up, Tommy Lee stood at the edge of the stage shouting, “I’m gonna miss you guys.”

We’re gonna miss you too.

And now… on with the show.

Motley Crue Setlist

Saints of Los Angeles
Wild Side
Primal Scream
Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S.)
Looks That Kill
On With the Show
Too Fast for Love
Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room
Without You
Mutherf**ker of the Year
Anarchy in the U.K.
T.N.T. (Terror ‘N Tinseltown)
Dr. Feelgood
In the Beginning
Shout at the Devil
Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
Live Wire
Too Young to Fall in Love
Girls, Girls, Girls
Kickstart My Heart
Home Sweet Home


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Someone is murdering beautiful young women in London using creative and dangerous inventions. We witness one of these murders within the first two minutes of the film when a young woman receives a pair of binoculars in the post. As she places them up to her eyes, sharp spikes shoot out and into her eyes, killing her instantly.

She never saw it coming, yuk yuk yuk.

Cut to a conversation between members of Scotland Yard and Edmond Bancroft, a local writer/reporter/author. Bancroft makes reference to Scotland Yard’s museum collection of murder weapons that have been collected of the years. Little does Scotland Yard know that Bancroft has put together his own “Black Museum,” one that contains deadly weapons far superior to anything the Yard has collected.

If you ever visit someone’s basement and it looks like this, run away.

At first it seems obvious that Bancroft is the murderer, as he appears to be purchasing the murder weapons from Aggie, a local shop dealer who specializes in antiques and weapons. Moments later we witness one of the murders taking place (guillotine, swish!) and it’s not Bancroft! What is going on here?!

Soon, the plot is revealed; Bancroft is behind the murders; after committing them he writes about them in his newspaper articles and books. When Aggie figures this out, she gets a pair of ice tongs to the neck; when his psychiatrist figures it out, he gets electrified and then tossed into a vat of acid until nothing remains but his skeleton.

Soon we learn that not only is Bancroft behind the murders, but that he has invented a serum that when administered allows people’s dark side to come out. Bancroft has been injecting this concoction into his young assistant Rick who has been helping him carry out the murders. Just like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Bancroft’s magical solution turns Rick temporarily evil and allows him to commit heinous acts of murder, which Bancroft then writes about.

Unfortunately the serum doesn’t also boost Rick’s intelligence. After stabbing his girlfriend (for “knowing too much”) at a local fair (in the Tunnel of Love — nice!), Rick climbs the Ferris Wheel and, before leaping to his death and stabbing Bancroft while landing, shouts, “I did what you told me!”

Based on this sentence, Scotland Yard determines that Bancroft planned the murders, Rick committed them, and the mystery has been solved. The end.

Huh.

I like old horror movies and Horrors of the Black Museum is no exception. I like the plot device of the mystery writer committing the murders and writing about them. I loved the acting and the sets. All of that was great.

I hated the ending. It reminded me of King Kong, when the police and reporters were just standing around Kong’s corpse, making comments. I don’t think Scotland Yard can close a case based on a single line yelled by a crazed maniac hanging from the Ferris Wheel. Maybe they do, what do I know.

These old horror movies focus more on plot and twists than special effects and gore. It’s almost a different genre, but I like it. Worth watching if you’re into old school horror.

(This review is a part of my month-long October 2014 A-Z Horror Reviews.)


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Almost every horror movie contains something shocking. The most shocking thing about 1984’s Ghoulies is how little the Ghoulies appear in it.

Ghoulies isn’t even really about Ghoulies — it’s about Jonathan Graves, the son of a self-avowed Satan worshiper who inherits his father’s home, book collection, and interest in the occult. (Jonathan was only a baby when his father tried to sacrifice him during an evil ceremony; fortunately, he doesn’t remember that.) At a housewarming party of sorts, Jonathan, his girlfriend Becky, and the rest of their friends decide to hold a seance using the old books found in the home, because hey, that’s what people did in the 80s at housewarming parties. The seance appears to fizzle and everyone leaves while mocking Jonathan, but moments later we as viewers discover that it did actually work as an evil puppet materializes.

Fast forward a few minutes and we find Jonathan — now with glowing green eyes — dropping out of college and spending all of his free time reading books on the occult and practicing incantations. Eventually his hard work pays off and he conjures up “the Ghoulies,” most of which look like slimy Creature from the Black Lagoon babies, but a few of which look like rats. While there are a few variations of Ghoulies, they all look like really bad puppets. Remember the first time you saw Gremlins as a kid and wondered, “How did they do that?” You won’t be wondering that while watching Ghoulies. You’ll just think, “Huh, look at all those puppets.”

Eventually Jonathan conjures up a couple of little people wearing brown coats and metal helmets named Grizzel and Greedigut, two names so awkward to pronounce that even they have trouble saying them at times.

Grizzel and Greedigut, along with Jonathan and all his old friends, perform another seance. This time, Jonathan’s father is resurrected from the grave. And not to make things obvious, but Jonathan’s father’s name is Malcom. Malcom Graves. Subtle, the film is not.

Malcom takes control of the Ghoulies and uses them to kill all of Jonathan’s friends, which is not a particularly nice way to thank people for bringing you back from the dead. He then attempts to sacrifice Jonathan to the devil, again, but things won’t be so easy as Jonathan is joined by Wolfgang, a good sorcerer who also happens to be the caretaker who has been watching over Jonathan his whole life. Just go with it.

By the end of the battle, excluding Jonathan, everyone involved in the battle is dead and everyone who was dead prior to the beginning of the battle is now alive. This includes a few of the Ghoulies, who show up near the end to let us know there will probably be a Ghoulies 2. And there was, followed by parts 3 and 4.

Ghoulies was part of a wave of movies that capitalized on the success of Gremlins, including Critters, Munchies, Troll, Hobgoblins, Beasties, Kamillions, and others. All of these movies copied the “little creatures attacking people,” but none of them were able to capture the wit or charm of the original.

(This review is a part of my month-long October 2014 A-Z Horror Reviews.)


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“The astronauts were killed for food. The alien ate their flesh and drank their blood. And that is a real problem!” -Professor Hertz

I can’t remember who first introduced me to world of Troma and their horrible stable of films, but once I had seen one or two of them I went directly to eBay and purchased 25 of them on DVD. I probably have 50 Troma DVDs now. Most of them were not filmed by Troma but rather simply released by them, but regardless of whether we’re talking about Redneck Zombies, Beware: Children at Play or Igor and the Lunatics, if it has the Troma logo you know it’s going to be a terrible film. In a good way.

This review feels disjointed. The movie itself is disjointed. I’ll do my best to tie things together better than the movie does.

The film opens with a shot of a cardboard spaceship and is followed by 90 minutes of cardboard acting.

In the beginning of the film astronauts make contact with a “massive” alien ship. One of the aliens hitches a ride back to earth and begins eating the fine people of New Jersey. On the monster’s tail is the local police department, Riggs (the astronaut that inadvertently brought the creature back) and Sandra Lynn, a psychic who has visions each time the creature kills. Which is a lot.

The director loves close-up shots and many times while people are speaking their face fills the entire screen and then some. These extreme close-ups make the bad acting hard to avoid. The acting in this movie is so bad that not a single person utters a single line that sounds like normal conversation. When a couple thinks they may have hit a pedestrian with their car, the wife says “I hope you didn’t hit anyone,” with the same amount of enthusiasm one might utter “I hope it’s not cloudy three years from next Tuesday.”

And if the acting is bad, the dialogue is worse. My favorite line in the film comes when two police officers discover a severed head lying in the middle of the road. Says one cop to the other, “We better call this in.”

You think?

In this middle of all of this, a convicted rapist and murderer named Savino Fink (aka “Chop Chop”) escapes from prison and is picked up by a couple of boneheads who mistake him for John Belushi, even though they acknowledge that John Belushi is dead. The hitchhiker cuts his arm up with a razor blade before stealing their car. What does this have to do with the plot? I have no idea! It would be literally as if you were speaking with someone and for no apparent reason they began rattling off the ingredients of their favorite pizza in the middle of your conversation.

The creature eventually makes his way to a local heavy metal club where he eats a series of male and female headbangers. And I don’t care what year this DVD was released, this movie was filmed in the mid-to-late 80s, I’d bet a dozen severed heads on it. There are a lot of silly scenes of fake-looking violence here. There’s also some nudity as many of the girls take long showers before going to the club and after coming home from the club.

I hope you get all your laughs out of your system because ten minutes later Sandra the Psychic gets raped by her boss, her daughter gets killed, and Sandra slits her own wrists. And the most tragic part of all is she didn’t see any of it coming, which means she is also a terrible psychic.

In the last sixty seconds of the film, the creature eats Riggs’ brain and Sandra detonates a small nuclear device that destroys the monster, herself, and much of New Jersey. If knowing that makes you feel like you now have to reason to watch this film… you’re welcome.”

Did I mention Flesh Eaters from Outer Space was filmed on video? There’s also a sequel, Invasion for Flesh and Blood, although based on how the first one ends I can’t imagine it features Riggs or Sandra the Psychic. Or New Jersey. I found copies of both films bundled together on DVD for $3.93 on Amazon. Sounds high to me. The DVDs actually contain commentary tracks and several documentaries about the making of these films, so if you’re into learning about how low/no-budget films are made, it might have some insight for you.

Also, this film only contained one flesh eater. Singular. That bugged me.

Recommended for fans of B (and C) movies only.

(This review is a part of my month-long October 2014 A-Z Horror Reviews.)


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As a kid I never completely understood the relationship between the first two Evil Dead films. Was Evil Dead II a remake? A re-imagining? A sequel? Who knows. I guess in the end it doesn’t really matter and I should just enjoy the films on their own merits.

Twenty-one years after the third Evil Dead film (1992’s Army of Darkness) fans were treated to a fourth: 2013’s Evil Dead. Is Evil Dead (2013) a remake? A re-imagining? A sequel? Who knows. I guess in the end it doesn’t really matter and I should just enjoy the films on their own merits.

In Evil Dead (2013), a group of twenty-somethings staying in a remote cabin in the woods accidentally summon an uncontrollable evil force by reading a passage from the Necronomicon. For those unfamiliar with the franchise, this is the same plot as both 1981’s The Evil Dead and 1987’s Evil Dead II. If viewers learn but a single lesson from these films it should be to stop opening opening books wrapped in human skin and randomly reading mystical words written in blood over pictures of the devil found within.

This time around our five victims have gathered to support Mia as she attempts to kick her drug habit cold turkey. Joining Mia in the cabin is her brother David, David’s girlfriend Natalia, and their friends Olivia and Eric. Fortunately the five of them each have unique hairstyles so they are easy enough to distinguish as they are being extinguished. Also joining the quintet is an ancient evil that enjoys possessing them one at a time (beginning with Mia) and alternating between attacking the body it has possessed and whoever happens to be nearby. Fortunately whenever the evil spirit possesses someone their eyes turn yellow and red, which makes it easy for us as the audience to tell who is evil and who isn’t.

Similar to Dawn of the Dead, Evil Dead (2013) forces characters to kill people they were once friends with. At least with zombies the person’s personality is gone and all that remains is the person’s shell. In this film, the evil spirit knows what the possessee knows and uses that information to tease and torment his/her/its victims. I’m not sure any of us really know how we would react if a family member became possessed and tried to kill us, but if their eyes turn yellow and red and they begin speaking in a demonic voice while shooting a nail gun at me and it begins to rain blood, I’m going down swinging.

Evil Dead (2013) delivers blood by the bucket. Knives stab, heads get smashed and blood squirts. Limbs are removed. In fact, two people even remove their own limbs. And, the chainsaw from the original three films even makes an appearance. This film pulls few punches. If you’re not into blood and gore, this one’s not for you.

The most important survivor of the film is the Necronomicon, which no doubt will be found (again) by a group of unsuspecting victims (again) who will read the spells contained within (again) and summon the evil force (again) with which they will do battle (again).

(This review is a part of my month-long October 2014 A-Z Horror Reviews.)


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I’m starting to get deja vu every year at Yukon’s Czech Festival. Except for the years I was out of town for work, I’ve attended pretty much every Czech Day Parade since the early 80s and I have to tell you, they doesn’t change much. After I got home from this year’s parade I decided to compare some of my pictures with ones I’ve taken at previous parades.

Here’s a picture I took this past Saturday of the cannon they fire off each year to mark the beginning of the parade:

…and here’s a picture I took in 2007:

Here’s a picture of the 2014 Yukon Pom float:

…and again, from 2007:

Deja vu indeed. Of course we don’t really go to see floats — we go to support our community, to see old friends, and now, so our kids can see their friends.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures I took of this year’s parade. After the pictures you’ll find a link to all the pictures I took.

Link: Czech Festival 2014 Photos


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Despite the fact that I’ve seen dozens of zombie films over the years, somehow I missed this one — the one that turned Night of the Living Dead into a series. 1978’s Dawn of the Dead is the second film in the “Living Dead” series of films by George Romero.

In Dawn of the Dead, the zombie apocalypse that originally began in Night of the Living Dead has continued to grow. Now, major cities have begun to fall under swarms of zombies — the recently dead who have become reanimated and have only one thing on their mind: eating human flesh.

This film follows the story of four people: Roger and Peter, members of the Philadelphia SWAT team dealing with the hoards of zombies, and Francine and Stephen, two Philadelphia news reporters. Stephen, pilot of the station’s news helicopter, plans to escape the city before it completely implodes; Francine (Stephen’s co-worker and girlfriend) and the two SWAT team members join him.

Just outside of town the film’s four protagonists discover an abandoned mall. The mall turns out to be a great source of material goods like food and water and guns, but first it has to be secured. This is done by first sealing off the entrances and blocking them with large trucks, and then ridding the mall of all remaining zombies one bullet at a time.

Just when our four heroes have settled into their new reality, the mall is attacked by a roving motorcycle gang. Initially the gang seems more interested in simply looting than anything, but after Stephen begins firing shots at them, Roger realizes that they have just declared war. In addition to the battle between the two groups of survivors, the biker gang also manages to let hundreds of zombies re-enter the mall.

More than simply a zombie flick, Dawn on the Dead pokes at society by having the undead return to what they knew in life — shopping. Even in a world left with no economy, the biker gangs steal money and televisions from within the mall. Even a few of the zombies are seen wearing stolen jewelry from the mall.

The film’s make up and effects, done by Tom Savini, are simply over the top. Severed arms, legs, and corpses litter the mall everywhere you look. The only way to stop a zombie is by putting a bullet in their brain and our four heroes dispense hundreds of them on screen. If forehead-mounted bullet squibs and brain-splattered walls aren’t your thing, this film is not for you. The film’s effects were shocking enough in 1978 that the film, unable to avoid an NC-17 (“X”) rating, was released without any rating at all.

Also shocking is that not all the protagonists survive. In the original script none of them did; on set, Romero had a change of heart and let half of them walk (fly) away.

Dawn of the Dead is a worthy successor to Night of the Living Dead. It deserves respect not just for what it did for the genre, but also because it’s a good survival horror film. You’ll never walk through a dark mall without looking over your shoulder again.

(This review is a part of my month-long October 2014 A-Z Horror Reviews.)


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For the letter “C” I considered watching C.H.U.D. (which I’ve never seen) or Chopping Mall (which I’ve seen a hundred times), but as I thumbed through my horror DVDs I realized I haven’t watched the original Child’s Play in probably a decade and I was curious to see how the film stands up today.

For half a century, the horror genre was represented by a small handful of iconic characters: Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, the Wolfman, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. With the rise of the slasher genre, my generation’s four-pack of bad boys became Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, and the baddest doll of them all, Chucky from 1988’s Child’s Play.

Child’s Play opens with Detective Mike Norris in hot pursuit of two criminals, Eddie Caputo and Charles Lee Ray. After Caputo ditches his partner in crime, Ray and Norris duck into a nearby toy store while exchanging gunfire. Ray, mortally wounded in the exchange, quickly performs a black magic chant and transfers his soul into a nearby Good Guy doll, giving birth to both the film’s villain and an entire franchise.

Through somewhat questionable logic Chucky climbs back into his Good Guy packaging, ends up in a hobo’s shopping cart, and allows himself to be sold to one Karen Barclay. Karen unknowingly purchases the possessed doll as a birthday present for her six-year-old son, Andy.

Once inside the Barclay’s home Chucky wastes little time in driving a hammer into his first victim’s head, Karen’s friend (and Andy’s babysitter) Maggie. While Andy puts two and two together pretty quickly, he (logically) has a tough time convincing the adults around him (his mother and Detective Norris) that Chucky is alive.

The film briefly toys with the audience in making us think that Andy might possibly be the killer, but it’s abandoned pretty quickly as we begin to see Chucky walk and talk on his own. After disposing of Caputo (his former partner who abandoned him), Chucky is wounded in another altercation with Detective Norris. Chucky’s then visits his former Voodoo teacher, Dr. Death, who explains to him (and us) that his (Charles Lee Ray’s) soul will soon be stuck in the Chucky doll forever unless he can transfer his soul into the first person he revealed his true identity to. That, of course, turns out to be six-year-old Andy.

This is turning out to be one crappy birthday.

Like most horror villains, it turns out Chucky has a weakness; his heart. And I don’t mean emotionally, I mean literally, you have to shoot him in the heart. (If you just had a visual of a human heart and circulatory system somehow developing inside this plastic doll, you’re overthinking the film.) The visual of a burnt and partly dismembered Chucky fighting to the end* mirrors Sarah Connnor’s final showdown with the T-800 in 1984’s Terminator, and like that film, the protagonists here are forced to stop what appears to be an unstoppable force.

(*There are six movies in the franchise; Chucky’s “end” is somewhat relative.)

Prior to the release of the sequel, I couldn’t help but wonder what happened after this film ended. Maggie’s death has been ruled a homicide (she did take a hammer to the face), and two detectives will have to explain back at the station why they pumped a burnt up doll full of bullets inside an apartment building.

The film’s special effects are surprisingly good. The change is readily apparent each time Chucky changes from a puppet to a guy in a costume, but the doll as a practical effect works. While some part of this is due to the special effects crew, a big part is due to the wonderful voice work of Brad Dourif, who completely sells his performances, both as Charles Lee Ray and Chucky.

Like Freddy Krueger, somewhere along the way Chucky lost his edge and began delivering more snarky one-liners than stabbings in later sequels. In the beginning though, Chucky was downright evil although not particularly prolific in his killing. Child’s Play delivers a total of six deaths, two of which are Charles Lee Ray’s and Chucky’s!

While Child’s Play delivers a few jumpy moments, it’s hard to be scared by the film at this point. More scary, I think, is the thought of experiencing something with no rational explanation. In the film’s sequel we learn that that Karen Barclay ended up in a mental institution, and why shouldn’t she? Nobody will ever believe her story, despite the fact she knows it is true. It’s a life-changing and permanent paradigm-shifting event that would probably drive any of us mad.

(This review is a part of my month-long October 2014 A-Z Horror Reviews.)


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