Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Week's New Movies: Huluween Wrapup

Huluween went out with a bang rather than a whimper. Here are the movie selections we saw debut towards the end of their reign of terror.

Six out of six Rotten Tomatoes critics agree: Rats is a terrible movie. The basic idea is that giant rats are terrorizing New York City, chewing up people at a frightening rate. If you're one of those people who can't get enough of the low-grade gore genre, then this is for you.


This is a CG-animated version of the famous classic story by Washington Irving. It's fanatically faithful to the source material in some respects, but plays around with the particulars at times. The story centers around Ichabod Crane, the greedy and superstitious schoolteacher who competes with Brom Bones, a hyper-capable good old boy, for the attentions of Katrina Van Tassel, whose beauty and family fortune make her a desirable prize to be won. This version also tacks on a frame story in which Washington Irving himself is told the story, which helps to pad out the 45 minute running time. The rivalry culminates in a spooky horse ride, during which Ichabod meets the legendary Headless Horseman. This features some interesting voice casting, with William H. Macy as Ichabod, Luke Perry as Brom, and Tia Carrere as Katrina. The animation is very weak-- I felt like I was watching a Second Life mashup (although I have to admit there was more gore and scariness than I was expecting in a cartoon). I'm all for literary adaptations, but I didn't find this one to be good enough to recommend.


The plot on this gore-fest from FEARnet sounds awfully familiar. It features a lot of chopping up of teens at a summer camp. The killer is Madman Marz, a dead maniac who returns with a vengeance whenever someone calls his name, ala Candyman. In fact, the plot is so basic and gimmick-free that it might seem like a welcome basic exercise in the genre, even though it is painfully, inarguably bad. If you've seen all of the Friday the 13th movies and are feeling like that particular itch remains unscratched, I guess this one is for you.


Now here's a horror movie worth watching. The 1968 seminal zombie movie classic that launched a thousand flesh eating ships, this is generally regarded as a masterpiece. The story is familiar to us all by now-- a handful of humans are thrown together by dire circumstances, those circumstances being, in this case, a siege by hordes of flesh-eating zombies. The idea has been done to death now, 50 years later, but at the time, it was ground-breaking and well done by directer George Romero. If you have any interest in film history, this is a must-see.
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