Freaky (2020, Directed by Christopher Landon) English 6

Starring Kathryn Newton, Vince Vaughn, Uriah Shelton, Celeste O’Connor, Misha Osherovich, Alan Ruck, Dana Drori, Katie Finneran

One More Trailer for 'Freaky' Body Swap Slasher with Vince Vaughn |  FirstShowing.net

(6-Good Film)

Goofy. Grisly. Entertaining.

Josh: Great. We’re gonna be killed by Murder Barbie.

Body swap comedies are inherently ridiculous and, in past, have been almost exclusively family flicks, Freaky Friday being the template. Freaky is decidedly not a family flick. Teenage outcast, Millie (Newton), is still mourning the loss of her father and trying to stay afloat at a school full of jerks and creeps. Stabbed one night by a local psychopath, known as the Blissfield Butcher (Vaughn), she swaps bodies with the mentally unstable giant. Even with the interesting twist on the body swap premise, much of Freaky functions the same as those previous comedies. Vaughn is now a teenage girl and the once meek Newton is now a single-minded killer. It’s a good setup for its actors to perform and be funny. Freaky basically delivers on that front which makes the over-the-top gore consistently surprising. Freaky isn’t remotely scary, but it is fun and grisly in a memorable way.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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The Ghost Breakers (1940, Directed by George Marshall) English 7

Starring Bob Hope, Paulette Goddard, Anthony Quinn, Willie Best, Paul Lukas, Richard Carlson, Paul Fix, Pedro De Cordoba, Robert Ryan

On DVD, 'Bob Hope: Thanks for the Memories Collection' - The New York Times

(7-Very Good Film)

Fun. Spooky. Well-made.

Larry Lawrence: I don’t mind dying, but I hate the preliminaries.

Apparently, The Cat and the Canary (another horror film starring Bob Hope and Paulette Godard) was such a big hit back in 1939 that the studio rushed out to try and emulate its success. They dusted off an old stage play, one that had been adapted twice before, and made The Ghost Breakers, a wonderful blend of spook house thrills, Hope’s rapid-fire comedy, and his chemistry with Goddard. He plays Larry Lawrence, a crime reporter on the run after a mix-up involving a local underworld bigshot. He stows away with the sympathetic-and beautiful-Mary Carter (Goddard), who has problems of her own. She’s inherited a large estate in Cuba, but the property is haunted. At least, that’s what someone wants her to think. Larry and his sidekick, Alex (Best), help her investigate. Like most of Hope’s early pictures, The Ghost Breakers is a lot of fun. Sadly though, it’s difficult to find in good quality.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014, Directed by Ana Lily Amirpour) Persian 7

Starring Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Marshall Manesh, Dominic Rains, Rome Shadanloo, Ana Lily Amirpour

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night' Gets Stunning New Trailer - Bloody  Disgusting

(7-Very Good Film)

Cool. Affected. Intriguing.

The Girl: I’m bad.

A film marketed as the first Iranian Vampire Western is sure to be looking for cool points, therefore, it could hardly achieve the effortless cool of an old Steve McQueen flick. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is calculated; the soundtrack, the black and white photography, vampires. It’s a cavalcade of hipster touchstones. That being said, hipsters are people too, and I’m probably one, at my core. This is a hypnotically interesting movie. In a town simply called “Bad City,” corruption and moral decay abound. Arash, a young man with a good heart in a bad situation, meets the Girl (Vand), ominous and beautiful. A vampire, she lurks through town, righteous and violent, much as Clint Eastwood used to in old spaghetti westerns as the Man with No Name. Spaghetti westerns are clearly the biggest influence on this bizarre work; desolate town, sparse dialogue, visual storytelling, moral anti-hero. By its end, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night does what it set out to do. It’s a cool movie.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Let the Right One In (2008, Directed by Tomas Alfredson) Swedish 7

Starring Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Henrik Dahl, Peter Carlberg, Ika Nord, Mikael Rahm

Review: Let the Right One In

(7-Very Good Film)

Striking. Thoughtful. Memorable.

Eli: I’m twelve. But I’ve been twelve for a long time.

Any feelings I have about Let the Right One In are inevitably affected by my love for its American remake, Let Me In. In truth, I prefer Let Me In. It’s more polished, more tense, and better acted. Let Me In’s decision to “make the story more accessible,” as they put it (sounds horrible), I would describe as simplifying or chiseling it down to perfection. This has been one of my more unpopular opinions over the years and a good topic for debate, but I will focus the rest of this review solely on the film at hand, and it is a very good film, obviously laying the foundation for its successor which I consider a great film. A beautifully dark fantasy, Oskar is a bullied 12-year-old (the movie is set in the ’80s and you remember how intense ’80s bullying was, at least in movies) just trying to make his way in life when he meets and befriends Eli, a vampire, eternally 12-years-old. So starts easily one of the strangest relationships in film history, at times, romantic, sweet, sinister, twisted, what-have-you. Watching its course is mesmerizing and Let the Right One In is often a beautiful film. Nitpicking, maybe, or perhaps just a consequence of seeing the film long after its initial release, the effects, while still effective, are unpolished at many points in the film. It obscures some of Let the Right One In’s beauty.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Sleepaway Camp (1983, Directed by Robert Hiltzik) English 7

Starring Felissa Rose, Jonathan Tiersten, Paul DeAngelo, Karen Fields, Christopher Collet, Mike Kellen, Robert Earl Jones

Sleepaway Camp (1983) - simonprior.com

(7-Very Good Film)

Campy. Bizarre. Transcendent.

Meg: If she were any quieter, she’d be dead!

Years after experiencing a traumatic (hard for me to discern) boating incident, young Angela is sent with her protective cousin, Ricky, to socialize at a nearby summer camp. The target of bullies and perverts alike, Angela does make one friend in Paul, smitten with her, while the bullies and perverts get there comeuppance from a mysterious killer. It’s difficult to tell if Sleepaway Camp is spoofing the slasher genre or if it really is just earnestly amateur. The dialogue is laughable, the story is preposterous, the acting ranges from decent to kitsch in the extreme. Regardless, this movie is pretty awesome. I laughed (I’m still laughing), covered my eyes a few times, and scratched my head often. Like other campy cult classics, Sleepaway Camp transcends the good or bad labels.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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The Fly (1986, Directed by David Cronenberg) English 9

Starring Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz, Leslie Carlson, Joy Boushel, George Chuvalo, David Cronenberg

The Fly's Deleted “Monkey-Cat” Scene Was Too Brutal

(9-Great Film)

Mesmerizing. Grotesque. Effective.

Ronnie: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Seth Brundle (Goldblum) is quite possibly a genius. When the beautiful journalist, Ronnie (Davis), goes out with him one night, she stumbles upon his plan to create human teleportation. The two fall in love, and all seems well, but, in that grand H.G Wells tradition, Brundle’s experiment goes wrong and the result is his body’s slow decay and transformation into some kind of human-fly. Hard to watch at times, but harder to stop watching, The Fly is so beautifully disgusting. Goldblum and Davis have excellent chemistry and much of the first half plays out like a charming romantic-comedy. The second half, though, is pure horror mixed with tragedy. Whether you see Brundle’s downfall as symbolic of a cancer or another example of a brilliant scientist going too far and paying the price, The Fly is infinitely, grotesquely entertaining.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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The Wicker Man (1973, Directed by Robin Hardy) English 9

Starring Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Diane Cilento, Ingrid Pitt, Lindsat Kemp

The Wicker Man (1973) | BFI

(9-Great Film)

Odd. Striking. Brilliant.

Sergeant Howie: Oh, what is all this? I mean, you’ve got fake biology, fake religion… Sir, have these children never heard of Jesus?

Nearing fifty years old, The Wicker Man, nevertheless, strikes me as a modern film, and, as such, its steadfast and impossibly earnest protagonist, Sergeant Howie (Woodward), seems misplaced. You won’t find many movies post-Hollywood’s studio era with a hero as moral and upright as Sergeant Howie. He’s more like a hero out of an old western. This, of course, is the point. Sergeant Howie is sent to the Island of Summerisle to investigate the disappearance of a young school-age girl. Once there, the devoutly Christian Sergeant finds himself in the center of a sex-obsessed pagan cult led by Lord Summerisle (Lee). Tempted at every turn, The Wicker Man is, on one hand, Sergeant Howie’s horrific, nightmarish descent. More conspicuously, however, this is one of the strangest films ever made; fish-out-of-water humor, Christopher Lee wigs, a catchy and perverse soundtrack. At its center though, is Sergeant Howie and the towering performance by Edward Woodward.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Hubie Halloween (2020, Directed by Steven Brill) English 5

Starring Adam Sandler, Julie Bowen, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, Tim Meadows, Maya Rudolph, Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Chiklis, June Squibb, Ray Liotta, Rob Schneider, Colin Quinn, Blake Clark, Kym Whitley, George Wallace

Adam Sandler's Hubie Halloween Debuts at #1 on Netflix's Top 10 Trending  Chart

(5-Okay Film)

Goofy. Modest. Nice.

Hubie’s Mother: True bravery’s being kind, even to those who are being cruel to you.

Comedy and horror mash-up well together, and this film looked to have its roots in classics like the old Abbott and Costello monster flicks or Bob Hope’s The Ghost Breakers. That was enough to lure me in, despite an extensive recent record of mediocrity from Happy Madison’s productions. Hubie Halloween is middle-of-the-road Sandler. Not nearly as miserable an experience as Jack and Jill but not as funny as his best comedies like Happy Gilmore for instance. He plays the town dolt, a local punching-bag in the historic town of Salem, Massachusetts. Obsessed with Halloween, his purpose in life is to protect those around him, despite their disdain for him. One person who’s always been nice to him, though, is Violet Valentine (Bowen), his childhood crush. This Halloween, he finally gets a chance to face off with something sinister and to profess his feelings to Violet.

A couple of positives first: Sandler’s movies are often underlined by what feels like genuine sweetness and he makes a point of capping every story with a positive message. It’s easy to be cynical (and more artistic) but he’s made a career out of mixing his humor with saccharine sweetness. I also enjoyed the frequent nods to several of Happy Madison’s earlier films. Ultimately, however, Hubie Halloween could have been funnier, it could have been scarier, and I could have done without the annoying voice Sandler goes with here.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Scream (1996, Directed by Wes Craven) English 9

Starring Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Skeet Ulrich, Rose McGowan, Matthew Lillard, Jamie Kennedy, W. Earl Brown, Liev Schreiber, Drew Barrymore

Scream 5' Behind-the-Scenes Photos Reveal Sidney Prescott and the New Logo

(9-Great Film)

Thrilling. Clever. Virtuoso.

Ghostface: What’s your favorite scary movie?

I have a few favorite horror pics, but Scream and its immediate sequel are definitely in my top ten. Kevin Williamson wrote a tremendous script and Wes Craven perfectly captures the comic tone even when the film is at its most tense. The plot is simple and could describe dozens of other slasher flicks. A group of high schoolers, led by Sidney Prescott (Campbell), are terrorized in their small town in California by a masked killer (Ghostface). What made Scream fresh nearly 25 years ago, and what makes it so much fun to this day is that the characters have seen their share of horror movies. They know all the clichés. In turn, every element of Scream is better than its peers. The dialogue is better than your typical slasher. The actors are better, and Craven, who made his fame in the horror genre, creates his best film. The opening sequence, specifically, known by most film buffs, is a tour de force. The way Craven uses constant movement, space, and that house with its over-large windows is unbearably suspenseful.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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The Frighteners (1996, Directed by Peter Jackson) English 7

Starring Michael J. Fox, Trini Alvarado, Jake Busey, Jeffrey Combs, John Astin, Dee Wallace, Chi McBride, Troy Evans

Looking Back: The Frighteners (1996) - MAUIWatch

(7-Very Good Film)

Goofy. Exciting. Fun.

Frank Bannister: I can’t fight it, Luce. I can’t protect you! There’s only one way to deal with this thing. I gotta have an out-of-body experience.

The Frighteners is Peter Jackson’s first big Hollywood production, years before he’d make his name with the Lord of the Rings saga. Jackson described his own humor as “moronic,” and it’s true that juvenile jokes are scattered throughout the film, but it’s his ability to mix a childlike spirit of fun with solid, adult material that makes him special. The Frighteners is a substantial, thrilling ghost story that follows a local shyster, Frank Bannister (Fox), who advertises as an expert on the paranormal. The town pretty much ignores him, but the truth is, despite his con man ways, he actually can see ghosts, and later, when a mysterious force starts taking the lives of town residents, Frank is the only one who can help. Trini Alvarez plays a kind widow and the only one to believe Frank. The special effects run rampant in this film and have dated significantly. That I still find The Frighteners an effective, exciting thriller proves that Jackson uses the effects well and is above all, a storyteller.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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