Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Top 10 Horror Movie Sequels: Part II

Here is the follow up to Part I. This one features films that are sequels in name only or don't share the name or any characters from their predecessors.

1. Creepshow 2

Creepshow is one of the best horror anthology films out there. Its sequel is in that category as well. With George A. Romero and Stephen King returning, it was easy to like this one. Featuring three segments instead of five, it seemed like a collection of episodes from Tales from the Darkside or something like that. But the wraparounds, as for the original, add such a vibe to this movie that it's perfect.

If you wish to go further, do not watch Creepshow III. It's a sequel in name only, but even that is too much credit to give this film. If you want more, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie is really Creepshow 3.

2. Day of the Dead

Most people prefer Dawn of the Dead, but my favorite of the Night of the Living Dead sequels is Day of the Dead. I think it's a very poignant film about society, not to mention it's a great movie overall. What is most intriguing about the movie is that is takes place sometime into the zombie apocalypse, as we already saw that in the other films in the franchise. Not to mention the man vs. man element that is a key to a good Romero zombie movie.

3. Halloween III - Season of the Witch

Always and forever, this film will be disliked by horror fans who cannot forgive the fact that it is called Halloween. After the success of the first two films, John Carpenter had the great idea to turn Halloween into an anthology franchise by making a different film each year or so that takes place on Halloween. After the critical flop that was Halloween III, Michael Myers returned to the screen in Halloween 4.

I love the film. I think it's brilliant for everything that it is. If it was simply called Season of the Witch or anything else that wasn't Halloween, it would have fared so much better. It's extremely sad.

4. Pet Semetary Two

Did Pet Semetary need a sequel? Not even remotely. But as they say, sometimes dead ISN'T better. Pet Semetary Two takes place in the same town of Ludlow, Maine, use of the pet cemetery from the first film and various allusions to the Creed family make the sequel already feel familiar. It's a good place to start. If you liked the first movie, I recommend the sequel. It's worth a watch.

5. An American Werewolf in Paris

This is a film I more respect for coming out of nowhere, having only a sliver of reference to the original, but being a sequel nonetheless. The concept of An American Werewolf in London is so simply that is could easily be transplanted to a different location, different time period and with different characters.

The sad thing about this one is that, apparently, John Landis was going to be involved. Feels bad man...

6. Hello Mary Lou - Prom Night II

This is one of those films that was originally written as a standalone film, but was retitled to capitalize on the success of Prom Night, even though the first one had come out seven years prior. When you mix Carrie with A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2, you essentially get Prom Night II. It's a fun piece of 80's camp that you just can't help but love.
7. Final Destination 3

I am of the school that there are only three good Final Destination films. One, three and five. However, three is my personal favorite. From the roller coaster beginning to the various ways to die, Final Destination 3 was just so well done. Not to mention that ending, sheer perfection!

8. 28 Weeks Later

28 Days Later is an incredible film, so it the sequel. This takes place well after the first film, mostly, so you see what events unfold after the initial outbreak. Yet another example of a being from the military point of view, much like Day of the Dead. It's an interesting film overall, but I do wish there would be another sequel to wrap it up as a trilogy.

9. Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest

The concept of Children of the Corn will always work, because children are scary. The first sequel in the franchise was shit. I can't find a better word, because it was pure shit. The third film, however, was interesting. By taking the children out of Gatlin and Nebraska in general, you can see just how large the control of He Who Walks Behind The Rows is. Not to mention actually seeing He Who Walks Behind The Rows is a massive plus.

10. American Psycho 2

The third case of a movie needing to be called something else. American Psycho 2 was never intended to be a sequel to American Psycho, until the film did so well that Lionsgate decided to not make a sequel would be ludicrous. The film was originally called "The Girl Who Wouldn't Die", but I like the title "All-American Girl" better. Back when movies like SwimFan were dominating in the box office, there really was a market for teen girl psychopath films, this just missed the mark by being called American Psycho 2. What a shame, as hearing Shatner say "Don't fuck with me." is probably the best line of his career.

Hopefully you will give these a chance, as they are the underdogs of sequels. The ones you wouldn't bet on, but the ones you would watch if they came on cable when you have nothing better to do. But I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Up All Night I - Courage the Cowardly Dog

Childhood itself can be a scary thing, but what really scared us all were the things we watched and read. It seems that kids these days don't have as much in the way of scary things, but in this series called "Up All Night", I'll discuss what kept me up all night in terror as a kid. Maybe the same things scared you?

Courage the Cowardly Dog ran for three years on Cartoon Network from 1999 to 2002. The show follows a dog and his owners and their terrifying experiences in "The Middle of Nowhere". With all sorts of paranormal events, monsters and weirdness; Courage the Cowardly Dog was sometimes legitimately spooky.

I was reminded of Courage when I sat down this evening to watch Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders on VHS. After the astounding amount of previews, the delightful feature and credits, an episode of Courage was shown. Specifically, "King Ramses' Curse".

The episode was still chilling. The haunting voice of King Ramses as he asks for the return of his slab is something that I'll never forget. But it was really because of the use of CGI in a hard drawn series that stood out as the spookiest thing to me as an adult. If it was just traditionally animation, it wouldn't have had the same effect.

Ramses looks like he came out of a very well made 90's computer game. See what I mean? Still, if you're looking for something kind of eerie tonight, I'd recommend it.

The first two seasons of the show are on Netflix, so it is easily watchable. If you have the money, all four seasons can be purchased digitally. Sadly, only the first season is out on DVD though. Yet another gross error from Cartoon Network, who needs is license out their shows to someone like Shout! Factory like Nick does.

Hopefully you aren't too scared. After all, maybe Courage was just acting like a dog.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Sweet Return

Over the weekend, the internet was set on fire by rumors of the return of Fruit Brute and Yummy Mummy, the long lost companions to Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Boo Berry.

The rumors are officially over, because it is now a fact.

Just look at that. It's a glorious, glorious thing. It's fun to note that they kept the full name of Fruity Yummy Mummy and changed Fruit Brute to Frute Brute. I like it.

I have been a fan of the Monster Cereals since I was about 10. I had never had the cereal, but (to my recollection 13 years later) I discovered them when I went to a comic book store and bought the Funko Wacky Wobblers of Count Chocula and Franken Berry.

Since then, it's been an obsession. I seek them out every Halloween and buy in bulk as it tends to last almost a year. But this year, it will be even worse. As, in addition to General Mills bringing back these guys, they are also exclusively releasing retro packaging at Target (As they have done recently with other GM cereals).

This is shaping up to be the best Halloween ever! But wait...is there more?

According to an article posted over on FearNet by Freddy in Space blogger, John Squires, he discovered that these two are being tested as year-round cereals. That is extremely interesting, but odd as the other three will remain seasonals. Talk about benching your star player (Count Chocula, who was the last of the Monster Cereals to go seasonal).

There is, however, something I am curious about.

Fruit Brute was the first of the two cereals and Yummy Mummy was a retooling of the same exact cereal just with a slightly different flavor. Some other art for these boxes have indicated to me that this will not be the case.
As it states on the boxes (and on the vintage ones above) the flavor of Fruit Brute will be cherry and the flavor of Yummy Mummy will be orange cream. I'm not sure if that is what they originally tasted like or if it's just a way to market them both as two different cereals, an idea I am very much behind.

I am incredibly excited, as it everyone else on the internet who knows or cares about vintage cereal. I can't wait to find these in stores! It seems these two are already out there, while Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Boo Berry will be along within the next couple weeks.

Top 10 Horror Movie Sequels: Part I

For as long as film has existed, so have sequels. There are an unavoidable delight. Many do not always enjoy sequels, but I love them. I think seeing the continuing existence of characters is one of life's many joys. Many sequels, unfortunately, do not live up to the thing(s) that came before, but here are some I think do. This list will only contain direct continuations with the same characters.

1. Evil Dead II

A lot of people still think that this is actually a remake, but I assure you, it's a sequel. Picking up very shortly after the events of the first film, with a little right-issue educed retconing, Evil Dead II is a testament to the fact that horror and comedy compliment each other extremely well.

2. Child's Play 2

With less scares and more fun, Child's Play 2 is the best sequel from the franchise. It might not be as great as the first film (and the exclusion of Chris Sarandon is a little sad), but with Brad Dourif returning to the part, you can be sure it's just as exciting.

3. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

While far from being "The Final Chapter", the fourth Friday the 13th film will always be my favorite. Be it my extreme dedication to Corey Feldman or sheer delight at Jason Voorhees meeting his overdue, albeit short, death. But as they say, you can't keep a good guy down...I think I should have used that line for #2, as that's a direct quote...or was that in Child's Play 3?

4. The Omen 2: Damien

The Omen is probably one of the greatest horror movies ever. It's certainly one of my favorites. But the sequels will always hold a special place in my heart. The growth of the character Damien Thorn is extremely well chronicled. The thing I love most about 2 is that so many people are in on it. The fact that Damien is the anti-chirst isn't even a secret. The thought that so many people in his life are willing to help him achieve his destiny is extremely scary. Also, The Final Conflict is great and if you really want to continue, there are novels out there for The Omen IV: Armageddon 2000 and The Omen V: The Abomination.

5. Fright Night Part II

The end of Fright Night certainly sets up for a sequel. What we get is completely different, but in a good way. Charlie is now in college and Peter Vincent in back to hosting Fright Night. The subtle humor of the first film is replaced with overt comedy, but balanced with a good story and excellent characters. The DVD is Out of Print and no one is honestly sure who own the rights to this film. Seek it out if you can, I highly recommend it.

6. Halloween II

Continuing mere seconds after the first film, Michael Myers is out to finish what he started and find his sister at all costs. With the return of the entire original cast (where necessary) and a script from John Carpenter and Debra Hill, Halloween II is the best companion piece the original could ask for. Those two as a double feature is enough to make anyone afraid of the boogeyman.

7. Jaws 2

There will be debate forever as to if Jaws is a horror movie or not. I think it's a monster movie of sorts and deserves a home in the horror movie genre. Jaws 2 is a fun ride for anyone who loved the first film. It won't blow you away, but it will make you even more scared to go into the water. Because apparently sharks hold grudges.

8. Warlock: The Armageddon

Warlock is one of my favorite "horror" movies (It's not really horror, it feels more Sci-Fi-ish). It's clever, fun and greatly cast. Julian Sands is the only character to return for the sequel and even that seems to give it too much credit. This is one of those "So Bad, It's Good" movies. It's certainly worth the watch if you enjoyed the first one.

9. Poltergeist II

The entire Poltergeist Trilogy is a neatly contained film series (Aside from the obvious "In case we want another one" end to 3). You can watch them all in sequence and it it flows incredibly well. II is my favorite of the franchise, as the inclusion of the character Reverend Kane makes it the perfect creepy ghost story.

10. Psycho II

Psycho did not need a sequel. It was completely unnecessary and absurd that someone even decided to make it. But I could not be happier that they did. The continued story of Norman Bates is one that is really worth telling. Even Robert Bloch thought so, as he wrote a Psycho II novel that is very different from the film we received. In addition to II, Universal also made a third and fourth film for the series. Norman Bates might not have the slasher chops like Freddy or Jason, but his story is certainly more interesting.

Hopefully there are a few sequels in there that you haven't seen. It's always good to be surprised that something has a sequel.

Stay tuned, as the next installment will be horror sequels that either share the name of the film before but aren't really related or are related, but do not share the name or any characters!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

There is a Fifth Dimension...

The Twilight Zone is a staple of television, having three shows and one movie under its belt, the show continues today with hopes of a new series and a new film. Without this show, there wouldn't be Are You Afraid of the Dark? or Goosebumps.

To celebrate all it has done for mankind, here are some of my favorite episodes. (Synopses taken from Wikipedia)

1. Third from the Sun - With atomic war on the horizon, a pilot and a scientist plot to board their families on a spaceship and escape to another planet.

From the great first season of the show, this film plays heavily on the fear of atomic war and the end of mankind. I didn't live in this era nor was I even born during it (My parents were only children as well), but the paranoia and the fear make this such an interesting period in time. Not to mention, the twist ending is great, so I won't spoil it for you.

2. The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street - A power failure causes the residents of a suburban neighborhood to suspect one another of being monsters from outer space planning an invasion.

Chances are, if you aren't a Twilight Zone fan, you have seen this episode. At some grade in your schooling, you have seen this episode. I believe mine was either third or fourth grade, then again in seventh grade when reading The Martian Chronicles (Which doesn't make sense in hindsight, as Ray Bradbury had nothing to do with this episode). This is classic Twilight Zone, and in my opinion, the very best episode.

3. A Thing About Machines - A writer believes his machines are conspiring against him.

Technology. It's everywhere. You can't really go anywhere in the world without technology. The man in this story is well aware of that, but technology is the master and must be treated with respect. For example, if your computer hates you, you probably did something to deserve it.

4. Nick of Time - A superstitious newlywed becomes convinced that a fortune-teller's predictions are quite accurate.

All Shatner episodes of Twilight Zone are classics. Simple as that. This one, however, is my favorite. In another Man vs. The Unknown episode, a man and his wife believe that a fortune-telling machine knows all and seemingly can predict their future with almost deadly accuracy. This episode has such a great ending to it, another Matheson masterpiece.

5. The Shelter - An alert is issued for an imminent nuclear attack, prompting neighbors to unite against the man whose bomb shelter has room enough only for his family.

I don't think it's cheating to put two episodes of a similar nature on the list. But The Shelter and Third from the Sun are very similar (A double feature as its best!). But instead of trying to escape, these people are merely trying to survive. During the height of US fears of a nuclear attack during The Cold War, this episode aired a little over a year before the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. It's a true testament to the time in which it came out.

If you are on Netflix, you can check out some of these. As of this writing, only the first two seasons are currently available on Netflix. In the past, three and five were also available to stream. Hopefully they will be soon.