Friday, October 7, 2016

Horror Movie Mini-Reviews 80's Edition: Halloween III and Near Dark

* Halloween III: Season of the Witch

Dr. Daniel Challis, an emergency room doctor, investigates mysterious injuries with the help of Ellie, the daughter of one of the victims. I love the first two Halloween films, but this one is horrible. I knew Michael Meyers wasn't going to be in it, which was fine (even if he is my favorite slasher). Trick 'r Treat and many other films prove to also be essential Halloween viewing, but Halloween III misses the mark by a huge margin. At first it had a lot of promise with murderers setting themselves on fire in broad daylight and other bizarre happenings. The chase scene at the beginning is suspenseful and really drew me in.

However, the reveals are underwhelming and shoddily done. Why are killer androids, microchips with pieces of Stonehenge in them (????), and witchcraft even in the same film. Of course the two leads have to sleep together even though Daniel isn't great looking or young and Ellie is. The ending is quite dark, but if you're going to go that dark, why not be more gruesome? Completely a missed opportunity. The cut to black at the end is a copout ending that left me cold. The best part of the film is the villain Cochran, but he doesn't get very much screen time. The idea of evil corporations is slightly ahead of its time, but still not well executed.

The entire film is horribly acted and boring. It had some good ideas, but the nonsense overwhelms everything else. It was as if the writer threw everything he could think of into one movie and it just doesn't work. If it was funny or campy, it might have been more successful. Halloween III: Season of the Witch is only good for a drinking game of how often they play the catchy Silver Shamrock song.

My rating: 2/5 fishmuffins

* Near Dark

Caleb Colton is a small town boy who works on his family's farm. He meets beautiful Mae, a drifter who bites him on the neck. He follows her back to her gang of vampires as they kill their way across state lines. Near Dark has a lot in common with The Lost Boys, but I didn't like it as much possibly because I didn't see it when I was young. The drama is overwrought. Caleb is a reluctant vampire who doesn't want to kill to survive. Mae feeds and then allows him to feed on her, but he could drink too much and kill her. I found him annoying throughout the entire film especially as he put the vampires in danger because of his ineptness. He longs for adventure, but doesn't like it much when he finds it.

The other vampires are much more interesting. Lance Henriksen is badass as Jesse Hooker, the leader of the vampire gang. He rules with an iron fist and delights in being a vampire, killing, and creating chaos. Homer is a vampire who was turned when he was a child. Obviously, he has a lot of angst because of this: an experienced adult trapped in an adolescent body. I was most sympathetic to him until he wanted to turn Caleb's little sister. If you hate your own existence, why force the same torture on someone else? The only vampire I hated was Severen. I usually like Bill Paxton even at his cheesiest, but his character was overbearing and insufferable.

Near Dark has some cool action scenes. The shootout at the bar is a particularly fun scene with gun happy hicks fighting deadly, sadistic vampires. When the vampires attack, the locals don't really know what do and try to act like nothing's happening until the vampires turn on them. The other shootout with the vampires trapped in the hotel during the day with police was also unique. The vampires couldn't fight as they usually do, so they have to resort to shooting back. The police shots reveal sunlight through each bullet hole, leaving less and less darkness for the vampires to hide in. Overall, Near Dark is pretty cheesy with some memorable moments.

My rating: 3/5

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