Saturday, 31 October 2015

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982): Review

Halloween III is a 1982 horror sequel. The film is directed by Tommy Lee Wallace (IT, Fright Night part 2) and stars Tom Atkins (The Fog) and Dan O' Herlihy (Robocop) . Although this instalment was not directed by John Carpenter, he did co produce and create the soundtrack.

Season of the Witch is a numbered sequel in the Halloween franchise, however, It does not feature Michael Myers as the antagonist or have much to do with the other films, other than being set at Halloween. The film centres around the mysterious Silver Shamrock company and their wildly popular Halloween masks which are being snapped up by children everywhere. When a local shop owner is murdered by a suit in the local hospital, doctor Challis (Atkins) and the shopowners daughter Ellie travel to the hometown of Silver Shamrock to uncover a clandestine, pagan plot to take over the world.

I have distinct memories of watching this movie as a kid and being bitterly disappointed by the lack of Michael Myers, who had been the iconic villain for much of the franchise. However, in recent years the movie has been reappraised and reassessed as a standout of the series and now I can see why. In retrospect, the decision to ditch your iconic villain and make a film that was distinctly not a slasher has to be regarded as an extremely brave and original move. Rather than buckle under the pressure of the first 2 films, as so many other threequels do, Halloween III is arguably the finest sequel to the greatest horror film ever made (that one isn't arguable).

The concept of a new world pagan cult who try to take over the world through children's masks is a great one, but the choice to fuse that with a satire of corporate America (as Carpenter himself would do with They Live) is inspired. Speaking of Carpenter, this feels like a Carpenter film in almost every way, particularly through the excellent score which veers wildy from the kind of minimalist synth used in The Thing (1982) to maniacal organs during the more hypnotic moments. The special effects and gore are also at a high point for the franchise and it's evident that the film was influenced by the groundbreaking effects in The Thing, released earlier that year.

If I had to nitpick, I would say it's an idea that feels a little stretched at times and more like an anthology segment or a Tales From the Crypt episode. There's also a part of me that wants THAT music to kick in and for the shape to appear at certain points. However, on the whole, Season of the Witch is a perfect example of a horror sequel tearing up the rulebook and refusing to cower in the shadow of it's predecessors...happy, happy Halloween from the Silver Shamrock corporation!

**** 4 stars

What do you think of Halloween III? How did you feel about the absence of Michael Myers?

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

The Green Inferno (2015): Review

The Green Inferno is a 2015 Cannibal horror film. Directed by Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel) and starring Lorenzo Izzo, Ariel Levy and Nicolas Martinez, all of who appeared in the 2012 disaster movie Aftershock. The film had intended to be released in 2014 but issues with funding and distribution delayed the release by an entire year.

The movie follows a group of fresh faced keyboard warriors who are looking for the next big "issue" to get behind. After Justine (Izzo) is accepted into Alejandro's (Levy) social justice group, the next big protest is unveiled. The group plan to journey into the heart of the Amazon in order to put a stop to deforestation and displacement of indigenous tribes (mainly through hashtags and retweets). Although this is initially successful, the group soon find themselves stranded after a plane crash and discover that the local tribes would love nothing more than to have them for dinner.

The Green Inferno is Roth's love letter to the gory Italian cannibal films of yesteryear and it's only fitting that he got his title from the most notorious and influential of them all, Cannibal Holocaust (1980). But, much more than appropriating one of the working titles for that film, Roth allows the gruesome, stomach churning atmosphere of Cannibal Holocaust to seep into every corner of the Green Inferno and, as a throwback to the exploitation era, it's a triumph. He also draws on another classic of the genre, and arguably a better made film, Cannibal Ferox (1981) in so much as he relaxes the oppressive atmosphere from time to time to let a little levity, dare I say slapstick, into the mix.

The concept of the social justice warriors, or slacktivists as Roth calls them, is a neat way to bring the genre up to date and makes the movie instantly more relatable to younger audiences who have no intention of discovering the grimy cannibal classics (nor do I blame them). However, I did feel the script was a little heavy handed at times with the satire and didn't end up being as clever as it though it was. The same can be said for the attempts at comedy within the film. Some gags made me chuckle whereas others, such as getting the cannibals stoned, made cringe a little.

Considering the wait for this film was so protracted and the expectations on Roth's return to directing (his first film in 6 years) were so high, it must be said that The Green Inferno delivers surprisingly well. Though nothing new or inventive it is a refreshing trip down memory lane to the days when exploitation films really were considered dangerous and something of a dirty secret to discover. It might not hit all the marks in terms of the writing, and one particular character did not get the cummupence I was hoping for, but it's one hell of a blast and puts Roth back upon his splat pack throne.

**** 4 stars

What did you think of The Green Inferno? Was it worth the wait?