Halloween Movie Review!
It's October, and I wasn't going to do a series of monster reviews. I tried watching a few “horror” movies, like the action adventure (not scary at all) Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, that made me roll my eyes so much that I actually found the buried memory of Van Helsing, and compared the two.
I wasn't even going to review Hansel and Gretel. The movie was so full of “look-how-tongue-in-cheek-we-are” it was like when a babysitter who has no connection to the child they are taking care of reads them a story: it's somewhat condescending and very aware of itself.
I can buy witches. I can buy trolls. I can't buy gas powered rifles and hypodermic needles. Even if this is to take place in an alternate world (which I could buy over something historical, the faery tale having been written in 1812, a time I would assume H&G is set), the technology needed would be so crude the "needle" would punch a deep wide hole in the skin, and there is no way he could just stab that into his leg, pull it out without ripping muscle tissue, and have a serious limp.
Hansel has “The sugar disease”. He has a kitchen timer that he wears to remind him every hour that he must take his insulin (not called that) or else he'll die.
The first use of insulin was in 1922, and children born it's invention rarely saw past the age of two. Even taking into account the fact that this all takes place in a world where magic is real, the fact is that H&G DO NOT USE MAGIC. They are using technology far in advance of their pseudo-historical world. This movie would have done better had it been set in modern times, and used a science vs. magic motif, instead of this pathetic attempt at popularized steam punk. Then other technology got used. Tech very far out of the age this is supposed to take place.
The French invented the first phonograph (called by them the paleographe) in 1877. I assume that the metal disk that is etched with sound would have been made sometime after 1888. I write this because Edison was a thief, and it also plays in the movie with no foreshadowing that this kind of technology is available to H&G. Often when trying to rationalize somthing I've seen I try to recreate what may have led to the various decisions to put something into a movie.
What I imagine the writers talked about while writing the film: “Dude, if it was medieval times and some Harry Potter chick flashed a wand at me, I'd pull out my bazooka man, and just blow her away”
There is a stun gun. The stun gun is actually less unbelievable. However the cranking needed to generate the voltage they show in the movie is a little far fetched.
I hated this movie. I found the jokes to be contrived and the plot to be a cheat that established the rules of it's universe, and then changed them as the story saw fit. When they kept referring to the “rules” of finding a witch and how witches work, I felt like there was a giant asterisk floating around that said *”Except when we're trapped, or something happens that contradicts that rule. In any case, we're not going to tell you what the exception is until after we've already broken the rule, so good luck!”
Thank god I didn't review that movie. Instead I was galvanized after watching a very underrated movie called Skinwalkers (2006), starring Elias Koteas.
Werewolf movies are always difficult to make. I've seen almost every werewolf movie ever made (I'm sure there are ones I haven't seen, I'm just trying to get across that I'm a big fan of the mythology), and there is always something that doesn't quiet work.
It's extremely difficult to sell a werewolf movie to someone who doesn't dig them in the first place: They're nothing like vampires. They aren't sexy, they don't glitter in sunlight. They roar and remind us of how dangerous the beasts of nature are, and how much more dangerous is a man without social or moral restraint...
Werewolves are the blue collar creature. They're always running, fighting, and sweating for everything they need. We never see them living in fancy castles or driving expensive cars. They are the loner among monsters, yet are the ones that are seemingly closer to the world around us. By contrast, vampires seem to be outside the world, not part of it. Vampires have taken themselves out of the cycle of life and death. The mythology of werewolves comes from our social roots, it represents the fear humans developed while tending to flocks, and the wolves that came in the night to take livestock. Further into our roots there is rabies, deepening the mythos of the natural world impinging on our structured world by very real force.
If the vampire can be seen as a symbol of power, corrupt leadership, and sexual lust, the werewolf can be seen as a break from corrupt government and a return to nature that's just as lethal.
I honestly liked this flick. Some that view it who aren't into horror may get a little left behind due to the fact that instead of taking the traditional 20+ minutes to establish where the town is and who lives there and how old the kid is and what Bobby Ray the janitor heard in the boys locker room, it immediately throws you into the story. It is assumed that we all know about werewolves. Maybe not everything, but we've seen the movies or read the Coles notes. Full moon, check. Werewolf, check. Small town, check. Granny with a pistol protecting the embodiment of werewolf salvation, che...WHAT!
Yes. This movie surprised me. They start the clock running from the outset and establish that a single boy holds the key to the destruction or salvation of a race of werewolves, loosely based on the Native myths of Skinwalkers.
This movie garnered a combination of bad and good reviews based on things I would not rate a movie on. There was a lot of hubbub about the creature effects for the film that was apparently a letdown. No, there isn't a detailed transformation scene where they go from human to werewolf, and you know what? I've seen that a dozen different ways in other movies. Know what it does for story arc and character growth? Zilch. Frankly I get bored with those scenes. My brain starts going “Yes, they are a werewolf, I get it, move on with the story. Yes. Fine. Transformed? No? Still sprouting hair. I see. No, no, I'll wait. Yes, there was a particularly vulnerable man who was making his way towards a gun to shoot you, but if you feel it's really necessary to show me the rolling yellow eye that signifies you're blood-crazier-than-shit, go ahead. I'll just hum a little tune. Done? Okay. Good thing we established that there are werewolves in this werewolf movie, otherwise I may have been confused.”
I can forgive a movie with bad special effects (to me, this movie didn't have bad effects. I was actually surprised at how well the effects were, given the genre and time it came out). I cannot forgive a movie that has amazing special effects and no story or character. Sometimes a director and their actors are trying to get a story across and and it fails in the delivery and editing and no amount of 'splosions or gore will save it.
This movie has decent acting, a decent story, a good pace, and an ending that I actually didn't see coming.
If you are hoping for that True Blood “I'm a sexy naked Vampire/I'm a sexy naked Werewolf, and that's pretty much the whole show” movie, you will be disappointed. This film is rough. It smells like blood and sweat. It has a frenetic craziness to it that other creature feature movies don't have.
Skip Hansel and Gretel, a movie where I turned off my brain only to be slapped with stupid so much that it started up on it's own volition, and watch Skinwalkers, where I started with my brain whirring away and got caught up in the ride.
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