Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Twelve + hours of fright: Ohio Horrorfest 2010

Last year I attended a horrorfest full of birds and zombies. This year's lineup in Yellow Springs was full of devils, trolls and hacks.

The second Ohio Horrorfest I attended kicked off with Best Worst Movie, a delightful documentary about the legendarily bad Troll 2, billed as "the worst movie ever made." What's particularly fun about the doc is the dichotomy it displays between the cast and the filmmakers. Most of the actors knew they were in a really stupid movie, and knew that they weren't very good in it, but enjoyed the ride anyway. They stand in sharp contrast to the behind the camera crew, especially the director, who actually still seems to believe he made something approaching art. Great fun. GRADE: A-

Troll 2: Well, what else could follow that? It is truly dumber than advertised. Not only is the acting below the bottom of the barrel, but the filmmaking is so slipshod, it results continuity gaffes that would make Ed Wood proud. It's the "so bad it's good" kind of movie that results in a rare GRADE: Z (It is worth noting, however, that Troll 2 no longer occupies the very bottom of the pile at IMDB. That dubious distinction goes to Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2. Somehow, I don't think that would play well in a horror marathon. For the record, Troll 2 now sits at a highly #64.)

Scream: Still very effective 14 (!) years later, and one of Wes Craven's best films, although my best friend pointed out, possibly correctly, that Craven's underrated New Nightmare may be even better. The sequels suffered diminishing returns but were at least good movies. I hope next spring's Scream 4 fits in. GRADE: A

The Brood: I can't review this one, as unfortunately, I fell asleep after about the first 20 minutes. As is the case with many David Cronenberg films, the pacing is too stately (that's a polite word for slow) to sustain consciousness at 4 in the morning. It sucked the energy out of the room; most people left after this. GRADE: zzzzzzzzz

The Evil Dead: I reawakened to catch most of Sam Raimi's ticket to the big time. It's a lot of fun, and well made, especially on such a limiteed budget, but I greatly prefer the sequel, Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn. GRADE: B

Child's Play: I was pleasantly surprised by this one, although maybe I shouldn't have been. This series follows the pattern set by so many horror franchises: a first entry that's better than decent, followed by a long string of mostly worthless sequels. This one is imaginative and fun, and it made me sad to realize that director Tom Holland (who also made Fright Night) essentially gave up on filmmaking in the early 90s. GRADE: B+

The Exorcist: Still gets my vote as the scariest movie of all time. It absolutely kicks my ass with every viewing, even if it's "the version you've never seen" with the STUPID ending, which was shown here. (Actually, I liked most of the changes the recut made and believe the ideal version of the film would be most of the recut without the "happy" coda. GRADE: A (docked a plus for having the wrong ending).


Zack said...

Thanks for coming, Sir Critic, and for the post-mortem. For the record, I prefer the original cut of THE EXORCIST, too, but unfortunately Warner Bros. doesn't seem to be able to license it theatrically. Weird.

Sir Critic said...

Interesting! I noticed it was a digital projection. So let's say you've got the new Blu-Ray of the film, which has both versions. Does that mean you're NOT allowed to show the original?

Zack said...

Correct! Because we're licensing the right to exhibit the movie theatrically, there are certain restrictions that accompany that. (Frequently DVD/Blu-ray bookings will explicitly note that you are not to show any of the special features, that you're only to show version X of the film, that you're to skip the FBI warning, etc.) In fact, the reason we showed the Blu-ray of THE EXORCIST is that I knew there were no prints of the theatrical cut. We actually had a bit of a miscommunication with Warners' about which version we wanted to show (I originally requested theatrical, but at some point in the process they mistakenly assumed we would show the 2000 cut, and then ultimately the licensing issue was revealed). Had I known we had to show the version we did, I would've requested a print (since they're still in circulation), but by the time we figured it all out, it was pretty much too late or would've cost us a premium.

Along those lines, we showed only 3 prints this year and four Blu-rays, which is depressing for someone like me. Aside from THE EXORCIST (where we could've gotten a print if we'd known better), there are no prints of BEST WORST MOVIE (it's only available to screen from DVD or Blu-ray), between Disney and the Weinsteins no one seems to have any idea where the 35mm prints of SCREAM are, and CHILD'S PLAY only has one print in circulation, and it was booked. Showing from Blu-ray does help keep our costs down (and when we book three films from a single distributor, like we did this year with MGM, they're inclined to cut us a break on one that's shown from Blu-ray, which they can't do with 35mm), so it has its benefits, and generally I think it looks pretty good (we have a great video projector at the Little Art) and people seem to just enjoy seeing these movies on the big screen with an enthusiastic crowd, but *of course* I'd love to show 35mm prints of all the titles every year.