Letterboxd Film Diary, October 2022
Published in Blog, Letterboxd. Tags: Film.
Film diary and review entries made on the movie social media website Letterboxd.
10/2/2022 Witchboard, 1986 (Rating: 2/5)
First viewing and I greatly appreciated the ’80s-ness of it all, but looking back on it I’m internally debating whether there was a sense of self-awareness to the production. I guess it doesn’t matter a whole lot. It was funny to me. Like when the David-not-David spirit knocks the knife off the counter and drops cocktail sauce on it—hilarious. Was it intended to be? No idea. Then again, when Brandon and Jim are screwing around later, kidding about what Linda sees in Jim, he says, “I make her laugh.” “Yeah, but so did I,” Brandon snaps back. “But only in the bedroom,” Jim adds. So maybe there’s a little self-awareness. Either way, given the vintage of the movie, and all things considered, it was damn near respectful to wait nearly 90 minutes before shoehorning in a scene that required Tawny Kitaen to be nude.
10/3/2022 Shark Night, 2010 (Rating: 1/5)
Standard Shark Week schlock, but with the added twist that the characters have devised a plan (which comprises the premise for the movie) to capitalize on the real-life success of Shark Week. Besides that, I appreciated seeing Joel David Moore and Donal Logue with roles; a pair of guys who, when I see them on screen, elicit a reaction like, “It’s that guy!” I guess this was an “It’s that guy!” movie.
10/4/2022 Scream, 1996 (Rating: 3/5)
If my Letterboxd notes are accurate, the last time I watched Scream was February of 2019, but it doesn’t feel like three and a half years since I’ve seen it. That has to be a byproduct of repeat viewings over the span of two and a half decades (right?), but this time around it was so many of the “little things” that I appreciated along the way. I have no memory of Henry Winkler and only a vague recollection of “Red Right Hand” being in the movie, a track I enjoy from an artist I love. I don’t remember the last time I heard anything from Republica, and took a time-out from the movie to bask in the nostalgia cookie and add a few tracks to my ’90s Rock playlist. The sounds of Moby in the closing scene was another nice touch. The video store sign which read “New Release & Top Hits: $3.00 for 1 Day” made me think about how much money I spent on rentals (and buying “previously viewed” VHS tapes!) back in the ’90s, and while I still can’t figure out why a Green Jellÿ sign would be in a video store, though I have a soft spot for them, too. Music aside, I cannot recall for the life of me catching the line, “Cute. What movie is this from? I Spit On Your Garage?” In 2019 I gave Scream 2/5 stars. It really is a classic though.
10/9/2022 The Rage, 2007 (Rating: 0.5/5)
Bookending the movie with voluminous exposition and an out-of-nowhere narrated flashback in an attempt to tie up loose ends to the plot, this presentation of “Whacked in the Head LLC” comes across as less of a fleshed out concept and more of a collage of ideas frankensteined together over the course of an hour and a half. The first scene runs nearly ten minutes in length before “the rage” mutation comes into play… and then we take a ninety degree turn into a Mushroomhead concert. The vomit-spewing rage vultures were alright (though there was way too much hyper-shaky cam used in their attack scenes) but weren’t quite enough to wash away the residue of an awkward, clunky script.
10/9/2022 The Houses October Built, 2014 (Rating: 2/5)
I really don’t enjoy haunted houses, but have gone to two in the last handful of years. Maybe I appreciate this movie out of a sense of projection… since I dislike haunted houses, maybe a part of me can feel that dread within the characters as the movie progresses? The scene where baby doll follows the one guy onto the RV is still super creepy, even after several watches, and the escalation of focused terror unleashed on the group is well done. I’m a sucker for found-footage type horror and this is absolutely one of my favorites, becoming an annual re-watch around the Halloween season.
10/15/2022 Pet Semetery, 1989 (Rating 2.5/5)
I feel like at some point in time, when things go down as they did in this movie, you have to stop making promises to your daughter that everything’s going to be just fine. And much appreciation for the resurrected zombie pet coming back to take out various cast members. That the killer cat was named Church was, I’m sure, just a coincidence.
10/15/2022 Friday the 13th Part 3, 1982 (1.5/5)
This started out as an absolute yawner, but I enjoyed it more as the movie went on. The addition of Jason’s iconic mask aside, the movie provided a pedestrian extension in the narrative, though some of the kills were pretty cool. The fire-poker and even Rick getting thrown through the window like a sack of potatoes (I imagine that’s what a bloody, lifeless sack of potatoes would look like if thrown through a window, at least) come to mind when thinking back. I’m not sure any of it would be better if I watched the 3-D version, but I’m perfectly content not dipping my toes into those waters for now.
10/16/2022 Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, 1984 (Rating: 2.5/5)
“All dead? Some emergency…” And with that one simple quip near the beginning from a snarky EMT, it became clear the writing for The Final Chapter was going to be miles ahead of its predecessor. Add to it an early kill of Bruce Mahler’s character, which worked to help soften several decades of residual baggage from the Police Academy series, and I knew I was onto something good. I’ve never held any particular sense of nostalgia for Corey Feldman or Crispin Glover, but I appreciated them in this movie as part of a broader cast that actually contributed something beyond serving as on-screen slaughter fodder. A great entry into the series, and I wouldn’t be complaining if it had actually gone down as the final chapter in the series.
10/17/2022 Friday the 13th: A New Beginning, 1985 (Rating: 1/5)
Co-writer Martin Kitrosser had a hand in the script of Meatballs II which makes a lot of sense considering how A New Beginning is a cross between slasher flick and cornball ’80s slapstick. It could have been the backwoods country bumpkins or the stuttering dullard, but the caricatures were so over the top at times that they reminded me of something out of Smokey and the Bandit. It’s not even that I even dislike Smokey, I just have little interest in it crossing streams with horror in the way it does here. It’s a stretch, but if I’m looking for positive takeaways, at least the movie serves as something of a predecessor to Mandy—I will never not appreciate a chainsaw sword fight.
10/18/2022 Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, 1986 (Rating: 2/5)
Taking a refreshingly different approach to utilizing silliness than its predecessor did, there was something a little more fun and far less lowest-common-denominator to the characters and their goofiness throughout this one. Take the playing war/paintball scene near the beginning with the army brigade music straight out of Stripes. It was dumb, but not condescending. Same with the dialog (“So, what were you going to be when you grew up?”), which better aligned with the increasingly absurd direction the narrative took with the movie, where Jason’s decaying corpse was reanimated into a superhuman killing machine by way of a well-timed lightning strike to his uncovered grave. As goofy as that sounds, it all added up to one of the better entries in the series so far.
10/19/2022 Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, 1988 (Rating: 1.5/5)
Maybe my reaction comes, in part, from enjoying Jason Lives as much as I did, but that movie’s follow up extends the series by swapping out much of the series’ lore for something resembling Carrie lite. It wasn’t bad, per se, just unexpected. The pacing was fine, if on the slow side, but there was a thread of disappointment stemming from it being less a Jason movie and more a telekinesis movie that Jason was shoehorned into. I appreciated the fight scene at the end for adding some sense of spectacle to the production, but if I start thinking about where Jason got the weedeater/saw from, or why a bolt of lightning is what reanimated him in the last movie while a jolt from a power line is what knocks him on his ass in this one, it loses a little something along the way.
10/19/2022 The Houses October Built 2, 2017 (Rating: 1/5)
I like this movie as a background film, using it as ambient audio and video while being focused on something else. For that purpose, it really works. In that context, there are plenty of times where I can pop in on it and check out the cool drone footage. Neat shots! But when actually watching it as a follow-up to the first: wow, does it ever struggle. Instead of using extreme haunted houses as a set piece for the narrative as the first did, The Houses October Built 2 is a movie that provides an overview along the lines of, “Hey, here’s what Halloween culture is up to these days.” Any goodwill from the original is pretty well lost by the time we get to the false ending, only for that to even be over-explained away, itself.
10/20/2022 Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, 1989 (Rating: 2.5/5)
By now you’ve heard “Empire State of Mind,” a song suggestive that New York City is not a physical space, but a place within each and every one of us; an operating system that just makes some people *different*, lending them a reserve of character to be conjured and brought to life in their deepest times of need. In that sense, this movie’s title makes a lot of sense. When considering how more than half of the movie takes place on a doomed aquatic voyage, however, the title doesn’t make a lick of sense at all, however. And that’s just the tip of why I loved watching Jason Takes Manhattan as much as I did.
As actually we transition to New York, Jason continues to stalk his prey before a fist fight between a brute and the masked man breaks out. His would-be competitor takes swing after swing at the face of the monster, then after bloodying his knuckles the man drains his battery further to a point of physical exhaustion with a series of body blows—each punch backing Jason closer and closer to the edge of the building they’re on. Now overlooking the drop, the man challenges Jason to take a swing and Jason LITERALLY PUNCHES THE MAN’S HEAD OFF! I can’t remember the last time a movie has made me laugh so hard.
“I find it a tall tale indeed,” says an alarmingly cordial police officer in a later scene. “You seem like honest folks so I’m inclined to believe at least some of what you say.” There was literally no reason for this line, as moments later Jason kills the prototypical Irish cop, but it just adds a sprinkle of nonsense to an otherwise transitional scene. There were so many moments like that which continued to crack me up. When the group attempts to evade Jason after that, for example, by popping into the diner they made their plea for asylum, “You don’t understand, there’s a maniac trying to kill us.” “Welcome to New York,” the surly waitress squawks back to them before Jason demolishes the entire place. Or earlier, when still on the boat, after saving the would-be drowning victim who’d been knocked off the side of the ship this exchange takes place: “I can’t swim!” “You ever thought about taking lessons?” “It’s not that simple.” Except it really is that simple!
From the general raw ’80s aesthetic down to pretty much everything from Peter Mark Richman, this was a howl. I want to give this movie a higher rating despite it being hot garbage just because I enjoyed it so much, but out of respect for actually good movies I’m capping it where it is.
10/21/2022 CHiPS, 2017 (Rating: 1/5)
Knowing Dax Shepard directed this ups my appreciation of it slightly—I didn’t know he could direct and I think he did a good job with it in that respect. Come to think of it though, I don’t really know much about Dax other than he has a wildly successful podcast and he played one of the idiots in Idiocracy. I’ve only listened to one (maaaaybe two) episodes of his podcast, though, and my takeaway… wasn’t much. I guess they’re charming, to a degree, but there was no real hook for me, personally. That’s sort of my takeaway here. There just wasn’t much here for me. Besides low hanging fruit jokes about eating ass and homosexuality I can’t begin to place a moment that even portrayed itself as trying to be funny, despite having just finished the movie. It sounds catty, but me saying “I didn’t dislike it” might be the peak of my praise for this one.
10/25/2022 Fear PHarm, 2020 (Rating: 1.5/5)
Fear PHarm benefits exponentially from being watched in a communal setting, where commentary among friends taking whacks at the absurdity of the whole thing brings it to a level of enjoyability that it’s unlikely to reach on a solo viewing. That’s how I took this in, with a friend, skimming through streaming horror options before settling on this because… why not? On the surface, Fear PHarm is basic straight-to-DVD quality schlock. The main group of college-aged friends (portrayed by a lineup of seemingly thirty-something aged actors) hit a haunted corn maze only to be terrorized by a series of baddies. That said, when one of the main villains is named Hershel Walker in an election year where a far more well known Herschel Walker is upping the ante of three-ring circus buffoonery within American Politics, the whole premise becomes elevated to peak hilarity. I hate the Rustin character so much, but was pleasantly surprised by the quality array of villains doing villain stuff to the “teens.” The strange plot twist near the end is passable, if not utterly fine, making the whole thing a rather pleasant way to spend a whopping 78 minutes on Amazon Prime.
10/29/2022 Ernest Scared Stupid, 1991 (Rating: 2.5/5)
I can’t recall the last time I saw this, but surely it was when I was a little kid, somewhere in the early ’90s. Eartha Kitt is fantastic here and in a completely different way so is Jim Varney. We watched this with my friend’s kids who are five and nine and they couldn’t have given less of a damn about it because it wasn’t scary enough… only for Ernest to have won them over by the end. “Can we watch it again?” one asked when the credits began to roll. It was so goofy and mindless and fun – I get where he was coming from. This is a strange thing to pick up on in an Ernest movie, but the production value is actually pretty high and made a lot of difference. Even though this was silly, it felt like the team making it at least cared, and that added a certain something that isn’t always found in kids movies. Also, we came up with a theory that this movie was essentially used as the inspiration for Stranger Things… Maybe a little South Park inspiration, too, as they kill Kenny at the end. Those bastards. (But just like in the show, Kenny came back to life before all was said and done.)