Movie Review: CHILD’S PLAY (2019)

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child's play 2019
United Artists Releasing
2019
R

“If they don’t let us play, they all go away.”

  • After moving to a new city, young Andy Barclay receives a special present from his mother–a seemingly innocent Buddi doll that becomes his best friend. When the doll suddenly takes on a life of its own, Andy unites with other neighborhood children to stop the sinister toy from wreaking bloody havoc.

I would guess it was inevitable that a movie like Child’s Play was going to get the remake treatment. I mean, everything is getting remade nowadays, amirite? Well, yeah…but the story behind how this movie ended up being remade while the original version of the Child’s Play franchise continues to put out sequels is rather interesting. You should look it up some time.

Anyway, when news of this remake/reboot/whatever of the 1988 supernatural doll slasher classic come about my usual horror nerd feeds, I vowed to never, ever watch it. Especially after I learned that this new version was going to dispense with the doll possessed by the soul of a serial killer angle, and going with a more “grounded” faulty AI programming angle. Yeah, I’ve seen that episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, thankyouverymuch. Another pointless remake to cash in on 80s nostalgia. Thanks, but no thanks.

But, obviously I ended up watching this movie. I don’t do a review of something I haven’t watched. *sigh* Yeah, I was bored one evening during the extended medical leave I was on, and so I figured, “How bad could it be?” Besides, it wouldn’t be the first terrible remake I watched, if it turned out to be as horrible as I feared. So, I talked myself out of my vow of never watching 2019’s Child’s Play, and gave it a watch.

I really, really hate to say this–and it shames me for having to do so–but Child’s Play 2019 is…deep breath…a good movie.

I am conflicted. I mean, I really wanted to at least not like this version. No voodoo black magic, no Brad Dourif, no potty-mouthed wise-cracking serial killer possessed doll. I already knew that going into this, mind you. But, after the first 20 minutes or so, so help me, but I found myself sucked into the story, and completely forgetting that this was a remake I was supposed to hate with every fiber of my gelatinous being.

So, here we essentially have a smartdoll whose AI chip had the safety protocols taken off by a disgruntled programmer, and the doll “learning” how to be a sociopath killer through pop culture and good old-fashioned social awkwardness. The story is nothing new or innovative–I’ve actually seen this premise as an episode of the 90s-era Outer Limits–but at least they tried something besides retreading the original movie. Sure, the doll has a modern tweak to its look, and it’s now spelled as Buddi and functions more as a glorified Alexa device, which is really more of the premise of an early 1990s syndicated sitcom. Somehow, this works as a horror movie.

While he’ll never replace Brad Dourif as the iconic voice of Chucky, Mark Hamill manages to make his take both playful and utterly creepy at the same time. Very effective, there–especially when you get to the full Buddi Song that plays over the end credits. All of the actors keep things interesting, as the actors doing really good jobs with the characters; I especially dug on seeing Aubrey Plaza here as the mother, as I was a fan of her work in the series Legion.

Overall, there was no reason for me to enjoy this new take on Child’s Play as much as I ended up doing. But, here we are, with me actually liking this movie, and recommending you to do so yourself.

Uncle NecRo Watches: HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U

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Uncle NecRo is joined by Brian from the Will Code For Beer pubcast in watching the sequel to Happy Death Day, HAPPY DEATH DAY 2 U. Did he loath it as much as the first one? Did the movie actually pull off the impossible and made him like it? It’s…complicated. Let’s just say that, this is the first Uncle NecRo Watches that made him get a beer for the pubcast…

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Movie Review: TERROR AT TENKILLER

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terror at tenkillerUnited Artists, Inc.
1986
NR

Terror At Tenkiller is another in a long line of low-budget slasher movies that came out in the 1980s. Yeah, they were poppin’ them out like Pez candy back then. It’s not hard to see why–most of these movies could be mad eon a shoestring budget, not having to be too elaborate with the effects, and the plots themselves come in pre-packaged paint-by-numbers. It’s rather hard to actually ruin a slasher horror. So, when one comes around that does manage to mess things up, it is something to behold.

As you may have already made the connection, the 1986 direct-to-video slasher Terror At Tenkiller does just that.

Shot on video entirely in Oklahoma, Terror At Tenkiller was an 80s slasher title that I had never heared of until just this year. That is indeed a rarity. Usually I’ve heared about a movie years before stumbling upon it. But with Terror At Tenkiller, I happened upon it while going through the horror movie streaming section on Amazon. The cover made me think it was cheesy goodness. Alas, it was anything but.

After a fight with an estranged boyfriend, Leslie and Jana take off on vacation and strange things start to happen at their remote cabin. Soon corpses begin turning up near the lake. One by one friends start to disappear, but the horror of these murders does not fully dawn on the heroine until she comes across the dead body of Jana. Is the killer Jana’s psycho boyfriend? Is it the weird handyman? Or is it somebody else?

I have a theory that, whoever was involved with the making of Terror At Tenkiller, probably watched a slasher flick and thought, “I can make one of those, easy.” Kind of like when someone watches a stand up comic and thinks, “I can do that.” And thus, we have a slasher movie that completely ignores all the ingredients that makes a slasher movie good: things like suspense, plot twists, story arcs, or even third-act reveals. Or motivation.

This movie decides to get the reveal of the actual killer out of the way within the first reel of the movie. That is the biggest misstep this movie takes, as it eliminates any kind of tension or suspense the plot could have had. And let’s face it, the plot itself is rather paper thin to begin with, which is fine, as you don’t go into an 80s slasher flick expecting a nuanced and complicated storyline. I do expect at least an effort to make the killer’s identity a mystery until at least the third act. Spoiling things like that just makes everything else lame. From the very sub par acting, to the slow pacing and bad editing beats; by the time the end credits roll, I would be surprised if you were still invested in the movie itself by then. I stopped caring about a third of the way in. Pass.

Movie Review: AMERICAN NIGHTMARE

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american nightmareMonarch Home Video
2002
R

“How many people out there are doing the old ‘razor blade in the apple’ trick? Good…”

In the mid- to late-aughts, I was really going for broke with the horror movie watchin’. Blockbuster was still open (though starting to show its age), but my main supplier of my horror movie fix was the now late and lamented Hasting’s store that was across the way from where I worked. They always had a far more vast selection of older titles, more variety, and a much better rental price. Well, until the Family Video opened and I discovered their 2 For A Dollar rental selection had a great horror selection. But, I digress. Point is to this pointless reminiscing is that I rented American Nightmare from Hasting’s…or was it Family Video? Crud, I can’t remember. Great. Let’s get to the review, then.

On Halloween, seven friends call the American Nightmare pirate radio show to confess their fears. Unbeknownst to them, a serial killer is listening. Before the night is over, they will discover that their confessions have ignited a psychological game of cat-and-mouse with a killer intent on delivering their fears upon them.

American Nightmare, for what it’s worth, is a functional slasher horror that’s a bit on the dull side. I was checking my phone more often than not while watching this, which is never a good sign. It’s not that American Nightmare is bad, it’s just dull. Pass on this one.

Uncle NecRo Watches: HALLOWEEN 2018

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UNCLE NECRO WATCHEShalloween 2018 banner
It’s been 40 years since the release of the horror classic that gave birth to our greatest fears in a William Shatner mask. Of course, Uncle NecRo and Brian went to see it, more out of morbid curiosity than anything else. Were we pleasantly surprised by a treat? Or did this turn out to be yet another nasty trick? Listen in and find out…

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Movie Review: PRAY.

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prayCross Shadow Productions
2007
NR

I’ve always said that the horror genre is the perfect medium for Christians to get involved in. I say that with absolutely no sarcasm or irony whatsoever. But, of course, this is generally not very well received by most of my fellow brethren and sisteren who share the faith in Christ Jesus as I do. You may have noticed that I don’t generally watch a lot of Evangelical Christian produced movies, for the obvious reasons. But, once in a while, I come across something so utterly adorable that the Evangelical Christian market puts out, I have to actually watch it just to marvel at it. Sometimes I enjoy it for all the wrong reasons. It’s the same reason why I love movies like The Room and Birdemic.

Recently, thanks mainly to the YouTube channel Say Goodnight Kevin, I discovered the attempt to make a Dove-Approved, family friendly slasher horror. That, of course, seems as feasible as dividing by zero. But, then, here we go. The movie is called Pray. (that period is actually part of the title, not the indicator that I’m done writing the sentence), and I believe I may have found that rare treat for my bad movie watchin’ tastes. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Madison and Lacy enjoy an out-of-town Christian rock concert. After some eerie events, the friends decide to drive back to their hometown. However, someone or something follows them home! Events unfold that find Madison alone at the mall later that evening. The mall closes, and we find our heroine mysteriously trapped inside. It will take her resolute strength and unflinching faith to escape!

Pray. is the most amazeballs movie I’ve every had the gleeful joy of watching. I mean that. This movie manages to hit near The Room levels of badness that it must be seen to be believed. There is just so much to unravel here that I really don’t know where to begin. But, here goes.

First off, not only do we start with a text of the definition of the word “miracle”, but the movie itself doesn’t think that we, the viewers, are competent enough to take it in, so there’s a handy-dandy voice-over reading the text out loud for us. I love it when the movie I’m watching decides to insult my intelligence right off the bat. It gets this out of the way, so I can settle in and enjoy things. Anyway, the acting here is about what you would expect from a low-budget Christian-based independent flick–meaning, I wouldn’t be surprised if they used volunteers from the church to film this, with a script that just had a general outline of what was going to go on, some minimal dialogue actually written out, then the rest just improvised for filler. There’s a scene early on, when the gang of kids emerge from where the nondescript “Christian rock concert” was, and the WGWAG* has his guitar strapped to him. He wasn’t a member of the band. He brought his acoustic guitar with him to the concert. Look, I’m acquainted with plenty of acoustic guitar enthusiast youth group types, and I’ve yet to witness any one of them take their guitar with them to a concert, Christian, rock or otherwise, unless they’ve got a set to play themselves. But, I digress.

The pacing and editing is shoddy, the film making is worse than amateur, many of the shots were lit very badly, and don’t even get me started about the complete lack of actual scares, tension or suspense in this so-called “horror” movie. Look, I understand that, to get a movie “Dove Approved”, there has to be certain homogenizing going on to get just the right amount of sanctification to make this family friendly. I wouldn’t be complaining much if the makers of this movie just relied heavily on jump scares, but even that’s too scary for Christians, apparently. Mind you, there’s a lot of music cue buildup to what you may thing will be a scary payoff, but no. The actual killer in this–listed on the IMDB page as “the Shape”, so they’ve ripped off something from a much, much better movie, par for the course for any Evangelical Christian attempt at pop culture–looks so very much lame: a hoodie and one of those translucent masks that you can get at any dollar store nearby. And that final twist ending itself not only insults your intelligence, but then punches it in the gut, and spits on it as it lays on the ground in the fetal position, before riding off with its girlfriend on a motorcycle. Seriously, this twist will make you pine for the days when “The call is coming from inside the house!” made your bellybutton pucker.

So, what else do I have to say? Would you believe there have been two sequels to this movie? With the third one in 3D. Because of course there is. You better believe I have those two cued up in my streaming account as we speak. In the meantime, though, Pray. (you gotta remember that period, it’s important) needs to be watched by everybody. Highly recommended for all the wrong reasons.

[*=“White Guy With Acoustic Guitar”]

Movie Review: TRICK OR TREATS

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trick or treatsLonestar Pictures
1982
R

“You’re cute. Are you the babysitter?”
“Well, you’re not. That’s a stuid thing to do.”
“It’s Halloween!”

As the Halloween season continues, I came across this obscure title set during the night of Halloween–the slasher Trick Or Treats. See, to differentiate this one from the other two better known Halloween flicks Trick Or Treat or Trick R’ Treat. I need to stop referencing better movies in my reviews. Anyway, that and this particular movie was released a few years before those two afore mentioned movies.

I came across Trick Or Treats on — where else? — the stream on Amazon, as one of the horror flicks set during Halloween. I had never heard of this one, so I threw it on to see how this was. *sigh* Let’s see if this was a treat or a trick.

Try and guess which way this is going to go.

Mr. and Mrs. Adams are attending a Halloween masquerade party and decide to leave their precoucious son Christopher in the care of Linda, a local babysitter. Christopher is a master of mischievous pranks and continually batters Linda with them, until a bizarre turn of events unleashes a true madman, just escaped from a mental institution, who treats Christopher to a trick he will never forget…and his babysitter may never survive. Next time your doorbell rings, be prepared…because it’s Trick Or Treats!

My biggest issue with Trick Or Treats–and there are many–is that it’s a movie that doesn’t seem to know if it wants to be a straight slasher flick, or a thinly veiled spoof of a slasher flick. I say this because there seems to be a kind of over-the-top quality to the acting with everybody that seems to indicate that no one was taking this anywhere near seriously. Which is fine, but there are moments where the “humor” almost achieves an Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes level of awfulness…only without the self-awareness.

I will say this: Trick Or Treats is something that benefited greatly with David Carradine all-too-brief appearance as the stepfather. Otherwise, we’re set upon by an inept script plagued with horrible dialogue an far too many clearly improvised scenes and pacing issues. As it stands, this is a movie that could have been much more enjoyable had they ditched the escaped mental patient angle and developed the story as a deranged child torturing his babysitter in kind of a Problem Child meets The Omen by way of Home Alone black comedy. But no, we’re given this badly rendered urban legend trope to waste everyone’s time with. I would much rather get my house egged than watch this again. Pass.

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