31 DAYS OF SPOOKY STUFF – Day 12 (Journal #74) – Sometimes, Dead Is Better

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Yes, it’s true. I missed a day. Sorry about that, but I do have a social life you know. It’s not a very impressive one, but it does exist. 

But 31 Days of Spooky Stuff does continue today with three spooky flicks for the Halloween season.

 

RATING SYSTEM

The Best – Reserved for the absolute cream of the crop.
Highly Recommended – Very good. Far better than your typical film and one that I will remember for some time.
Recommended – Just what it says. This is a good film and earns a recommendation. Don’t think that because it’s not one of the top two categories that these films aren’t worth your time. The “recommended” tag is a winner and nothing to sneer at.
Barely Recommended – The middle of the road. Those films where I didn’t feel it was a complete waste of time, but it didn’t set my world on fire either. Not bad, but leaves me feeling bored and/or apathetic.
Disappointing – Close but no cigar. Does a few things right but is ultimately a whole lot of wasted potential. Not recommended.
Awful – A bad movie. Pure and simple. Not worth your time.
The Worst – The Britta Perry of ratings, though not as entertaining. The bottom of the barrel.

CRITERIA

What was the film trying to accomplish and how well did it meet those goals?
In addition to (or sometimes despite) that, how does the film hold up on sheer entertainment value?

 

FILM GEEK JOURNAL – ENTRY 74

(31 DAYS OF SPOOKY STUFF – DAY 12 – OCT. 12, 2013)

 

death_valley_1

 

death_valley_xlgDEATH VALLEY (1982) – Billy (Peter Billingsley, in his screen debut) spends a day in the city with his father (Edward Hermann), the last day of this kind he will have for some time. Billy’s parents are divorced and now his mother (Catherine Hicks) is taking him to live in the country with a man he doesn’t know (Paul Le Mat). As part of a “getting to know you” excursion, they go on a trip through Death Valley where they see an old gold mine and a Wild West theme park. Billy unknowingly stumbles onto the scene of a murder and now the killer (Stephen McHattie) is out to silence Billy for good.

DEATH VALLEY suffers from a slow beginning and some ill-timed comic relief midway through. It wants to create some well-rounded characters, which is an admirable trait. But we wind up being pretty thankful when things finally start moving.

In the end, DEATH VALLEY winds up being an enjoyable yet forgettable film that is supported mainly on the strength of its exemplary cast.  But hey, you’ve gotta love this trailer.  Barely Recommended.

 

 

petsem_04

 

pet_sematary_xlgPET SEMATARY (1989) – The Creed family moves to Maine (of course), somewhere way outside of town. So far in fact that the only other house in sight is the house across the street, belonging to the elderly Jud Crandall (Fred Gwynne). Louis Creed (Dale Midkiff) doesn’t know what to do when his daughter’s cat Church is killed by a truck, especially since both his wife and daughter have had a difficult time dealing with death. Jud takes him to a place beyond the local pet cemetery (“the title comes from kids’ misspelling of the word), re-animating the cat. But when the cat comes back (anyone else thinking of that song?), he isn’t quite right. And it just gets worse when tragedy strikes the Creed family.

PET SEMATARY is often cited as a modern horror classic. For myself, I don’t know. I watched this when it first came out and it didn’t affect me. Over twenty years later, I gave it another shot… and it still doesn’t affect me. It’s not a bad film, it’s just a very uneven one. Good performances (Gwynne, Denise Crosby) mix with some terrible ones (Midkiff, Blaze Berdahl). Stephen King writes the script here, but what people tend to forget about King’s screenplays is that he’s a much better novelist. There are several moments that stay with you for days afterward. But what stays with you more is that a film with subject matter like this should be much better than it is.  Barely Recommended.

 

 

warmbodies_01

 

warm_bodies_ver2_xlgWARM BODIES (2013) – The zombies have risen. Non-infected people have sealed themselves off in walled cities while the zombies shamble around, trying to figure something out about their weird existence. During a raid to get supplies, a group of humans come up across some zombies. One zombie, named “R” because that’s the only part of his name he recalls, falls in love at first sight with a pretty blonde in the group… after he eats her boyfriend’s brains of course. He takes her hostage, keeping her safe so she won’t be eaten by the other undead. For days, he doesn’t try to eat her and instead merely seems to be trying to connect with her in a meaningful way. After she returns home, R follows her because he recognizes a change that is occurring in him and his zombie friends.

A lot of people out there have been quick to classify WARM BODIES as “TWILIGHT with zombies.” These people obviously haven’t seen the film and don’t really know what they are talking about. Yes, there is another undead romance going on. But it’s a lot less one-sided and moony-eyed than the tale of Bella and Edward. Though R can only speak out loud in grunts and short sentences, he’s a better-rounded character than Edward ever was. Plus, WARM BODIES makes the wise decision of being funny, a fun twist on the romantic comedy and on the zombie film as well.

Points off for the subplot about humans just not understanding. It feels like John Malkovich seems to be going through the paces here and this element isn’t as thought out as the rest of the film. Still, WARM BODIES is a pleasant surprise.  Recommended.

 

 

Number of films covered in the Journal so far: 313

Miss any of tShe previous Journal entries? Check them out here!

And tune into my new web series, Moviocrity! New episode now available!!!

 



Categories: 31 Days of Spooky Stuff, Scott W. Davis, Scott's Film Geek Journal

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