Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My Top 20 Favorite Christmas Specials and Movies

    Christmas seems to be every Childs favorite time of year, they love the snow, presents, decorations and of cores the yearly Christmas specials. There practically a sub-genera within themselves, and I’m rounding up my personal top 20 favorite Christmas specials and movies of all time ... here we go. Now 20 specials is a lot to go through, so I’ll keep the comments short and simple.    

20. The Twilight Zone: Night of the Meek (1960)
 I’m sure it seems odd to have an episode from the Twilight Zone kicking of my list, but it really is one of my favorite holiday specials to ever air on TV. In this Christmas themed episode titled “Night of the Meek”, a poor, down and out man's life is in the dumps, but more important to him are the lives of those who are even more less fortunate than himself. So for his kindness, this man actually takes the role of Santa, giving gifts and cheer to all in need. It’s a simple story, with a wholesome message and the same thought provoking storytelling that The Twilight Zone is best at conveying.   

 19. Disney’s The Little Match Girl (2006)

 Despite the fact that this is only a seven minuet short, it still stands strong as a wonderful holiday gem. It's simply Disney at its finest, with great animation, and lots of drama focusing on the fragile nature of human life. It's a truly heartwarming story that focuses on the importance of hope, dreams and helping the innocent. “Little Match Girl” has always been one of my favorite Christmas stories and has always deserved its own holiday special, thankfully in the absence of a motion picture we have this terrific little short film.  

18. Nicholas: The Boy who Became Santa (1990) 

We all know about Santa Claus right? Well, lets hear his story from the point of view of the historical Saint Nicholas for once, that only seems fair. In just 30 minutes and with a small animation budget, “Nicholas” conveys a touching moral about charity, along with subtle religious themes and depicts Santa as more than just a colorful holiday icon. 

 17. A Christmas Carol: The Musical (2004) 

Here's yet another great version of “A Christmas Carol” that's a personal gem of mine. Adapting The Charles Dickens classic into a musical was a very clever idea, giving audiences a fresh take on a popular story. While there have been several musical renditions of A Christmas Carol”, this is my favorite version, thanks to it's wonderful song numbers and a delightful overtone.   

16. Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (1999)
 This is a very personal favorite of mine, why, because Mickey Mouse has always been my all time favorite cartoon character from child hood, and it was a real joy to give him and all the other classic Disney cartoon characters their own little animated Christmas movie. It's an anthology film with several story’s, and each one is packed with thoughtful morals, great animation and some relatively funny scenes. It’s just nostalgic holiday gold from beginning to end, and it captures that timeless, magical quality that only Disney and Christmas can provide.

15. Miracle on 34th Street (1994) 

 This is a rare case in which a remake of a classic movie can hold its own relatively well. Sure it’s not quite as great as the original classic, but there are some improvements here and there, most notably the ending, which holds up so well by comparison to the first. Plus, I love Sir Richard Attenborough as Santa, he’s just such a warm and gentle old man who captures the spirit of the character perfectly and for all the movies faults, it still has its own little charms that make it worth annual viewings.  

 13. Joyeux Noel (2005)

 Based on an incredible true story that takes place during the First World War, this film shows how even the most violent of people at war with each other can still find peace and love in their fellow man. It’s powerful, inspiring and it should stand as a staple for other Christmas movies to draw inspiration from, it’s just that good.  

13. The Small One (1978) 
 Now here’s a true gem that many people seem to overlook. It’s the story about a boy who has to sell his donkey because he’s getting to old, and from that simple premise, you get a Christmas special that’s sad, engaging and it all leads to one of the most heartwarming endings you’ll ever see. With the combined magics of Disney, Don Bluth and Christmas all wrapped in one package, “The Small One” still stands as one of the best and a personal favorite.  

12. Dragons: Gift of the Night Fury (2011) 

Well ...  DreamWorks “How to Train Your Dragon” is personally one of my favorite animated movies of all time, so naturally it's holiday special is a personal favorite that I just couldn't keep off my list. Aside from being a terrific continuation of that story, it still feels like a proper Christmas special. It looks amazing, it's funny, and it has more then enough warm feel good moments that you just love seeing in holiday specials of this sort. 

11. The Grinch (2000)
 I’ll admit that this film may be just a little too dark and unpleasant for some kids, but then again ... like other holiday specials, the more intense you make the character and his story, the happier the resolution at the end. Sure it’s not as good as the original animated classic, but there are still so many things that I love about this film, the jokes at times are funny, I like its otherworldly look and feel, the music is great and of cores, it’s the always fantastic Jim Carry who completely steels the show. For all its negativity, there’s still a lot of warm holiday cheer and a simple, good message to boot.

10. The Nativity Story (2006)
 Well ... there just isn’t any other Christmas story that’s more proper or more important then the birth of Christ. It’s heartwarming, thoughtful, inspiring, uplifting, and I think it's told fairly well in this film. While I'll admit, the final product could have been a pinch stronger, especially when considering it's biblical source material, but it's still done well, and the version that I find myself watching the most often around Christmas. 

9. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
 This one’s harder to explain, but it just feels very genuine, like there's nothing manipulative about it. Plus, it's one of those gems that most kids grow up with, and still watch around the holiday season. it’s just a strait forward holiday special that’s charming, unforgettable and personally my favorite of all the Charlie Brown specials.

8. The Snowman (1982)
 Here’s a film that I never full appreciated as a child but I’ve really grown to love it over the years. It’s a classic tale of a snowman coming to life, the experience he shares with a young boy, and even though there isn’t a single line of dialog, a lot of character still shines through. I just love how simplistic the experience is, the look is very unique, the atmosphere is wonderful, the story telling is light as air and the music is absolutely breathtaking.

7. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
 Hands down the best movie to portray Santa, as he’s both jolly and fun but also sophisticated and dignified. A lot of that has to do with the terrific lead performance from classy actor Edmund Gwenn, who simply shines in the role of Santa. Add in Maureen O’ Hara as the closed off yet hopefully optimistic mother and Natalie Wood as the bright eyed and charming little girl, they all add a chief ingredient to a wonderful film, that of gentle sentimentalism and a warm holiday message. It’s just a classy, joyful movie that just gets better with age. 

6. The Polar Express (2004)
 I personally adore this film, why, because it’s nothing more than an experience. Just like with “The Snowman”, it’s a simplistic story with a unique premise and from begging to end, it feels like you’re having a dream. The colors are beautiful, the music is very warm, the atmosphere is great and the 3D animation is just dazzling. Personally, films don’t always need a stellar story, sometimes I just want to experience something, and “The Polar Express” is a film that I look forward to experiencing again and again every year.  

5. National Lampoons Christmas Vacation (1989)
 Hands down, the best Christmas comedy of all time. This one just finds that perfect balance, with lots of slapstick and laugh out loud moments, but also some really simple holiday charms and details. It's the perfect offset to what we usually get around Christmas, and yet it still feels like a holiday classic in it's own hilarious way.    

4. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
 Even though I love this movie, I honestly never look at it as a Christmas film, it's just a great movie that happens to take place around the holiday season. Having said that, "It’s a Wonderful Life", is still the timeless story about how one man’s life could have such a huge impact on the lives of others, which is just as inspiring as it is enduring. In the end, this film reminds us what a wonderful and beautiful life we truly do have. With a solid direction from Frank Capra, an outstanding lead performance from James Stewart, and a brilliant premise, “It’s a Wonderful Life” still proves to be a near flawless film.

3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
 Do I even need to explain why this is one of my favorites, I think most people would call this one of the best. The music is unforgettable, the poetry is fun, the beautiful colors just pop off the screen, and the message at the end still stands as strong today. Plus, the Grinch himself is just an iconic character and so much fun to watch. It’s simply the classic holiday cartoon that we all grew up with, and never grow out of.

2. A Christmas Carol (1999) 
 This is my personal favorite version of “A Christmas Carol” by far. Even though I’d seen many kid versions of this film beforehand (like “The Muppets Christmas Carol”) this is the version that really showed me what a wonderful and timeless tale this truly is. It’s just such a great story about looking back on who we once were, comparing it to what we are now and who we hope to be in the future. It's a story of redemption, remorse, regret and the beauty of life all in one beautiful package. Plus, I love Patrick Stewart in the role of Mr. Scrooge, he just nails ever emotion perfectly, even when acting over the top. Now any version of "A Christmas Carol" is great and worth viewing but it’s this version from 1999 that left the biggest impact on me personally.    

1. A Christmas Story (1983)
 This is absolutely the perfect Christmas movie, it’s funny, it’s dark, it’s nostalgic, it’s warm, it’s innocent, it’s cheerful, it’s simply perfect all around. I love how this movie is told from the perspective of an adult who’s sharing a story of his childhood with us, because memories do play a big part in Christmas. Even though I didn’t grow up in the 50’s, this film seems to represent a childhood that’s very similar to my own and watching it from beginning to end is like looking through a window to the past, while also having a lot of fun. Plus there are so many simplistic little details throughout the whole film that just elevates its holiday charms. It’s for this and so many other reasons that “A Christmas Story” will always stand as my all time favorite Christmas Movie or Special.   
                                              The End 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Nostalgia Critic: My favorite episodes and biggest laugh out loud moments

      Even though I’ve always had my own opinion on films and have always wanted to share them with others, my inspiration for reviewing films came from other popular reviewers like Siskel and Ebert. But my biggest influences came from Internet reviews like “Confused Mathew” or “Cinemassacre” and a personal favorite of mine has always been the “Nostalgia Critic” from “That Guy with the Glasses. Com”. This show’s sort of a fun mix between film reviewing and a laugh out loud comedy show. He focuses on old films that he grew up with, preferably the bad ones because he can be as silly and as funny as he wants with those. Then occasionally, he’ll review something positive from his past and those are the ones that inspire me to review movies and shows that I grew up with. Whether it’s one of his funny reviews or his honestly nostalgic reviews, this show was a lot of fun to watch and now after roughly five years on the internet, this show has reached its final episode. So to celebrate, here are my personal, top 11 favorite Nostalgia Critic episodes. Why top 11, because every single list of his was a top 11 list and in order to do a proper tribute, I’m going to have to make this a top 11 list as well.   
11. NC reviews "Casper"
 Over all the years of funny Nostalgia Critic Halloween reviews, nothing has quiet stuck with me more then his early review of “Casper”. The movie itself was an okay film that I grew up with, but didn't really think there was enough material in the film to make a very funny review out off. Well, not only do the jokes in this review work, but there some of his most memorable stabs at a spooky family film. The joke that makes this episode stand out is that a cartoon Casper is constantly picking at the Critic for reviewing his film, which is something we'd never seen before from his video's. This leads to one of his greatest climaxes ever where the Nostalgia Critic suits up in a Ghostbusters costume, battles the Casper cartoon, chases him down the street to a video game expo, and then has a full mob of costumed people behind him. This was his first time he appeared at a convention of any sort, and he definitely made a big splash ... quiet literally as it ends with him diving into a pool. At the time, it was one of the funniest things I'd ever seen on the internet, and while the critic still continues to make me laugh after all these years, there was just something special and unique about the comedy in this review that makes it my personal favorite Nostalgia-Ween review. 
10. AVGN VS. NC: The Final Battle (in 2 parts) 
Aside from reviewing movies and constructing top 11 lists, sometimes the Nostalgia Critic will just have a random, special episode with guest characters and odd, comedic storytelling. One of his best long running specials was in the very first season of the show, where he was literally at war with another popular comedic, internet character called the Angry Video Game Nerd. This was a fun little running joke that these two had a grudge against each other but the highlight was the last episode, simply titled “The Final Battle”. It’s just this crazy one on one fight between these two over the top, comedic guys, with lots of flashy effects, lots of really quick jokes and it was such of fun conclusion to this running series of episodes.       
9. NC reviews "The NeverEnding Story III: Escape to Fantasia" 
This was one of those movies that I grew up with and hated with a passion, so it was great fun to see the Nostalgia Critic expose this film for the unbelievably terrible movie that it is. The jokes are all really funny, especially some new cartoony jokes, like the Critics jaw cartoonishly dropping to the floor at the shock of just how bad the film gets. It’s one of those bad movies that he can really have a lot of fun with and it all leads to the biggest breakout of rage as he literally destroys a DVD copy of the movie with a crowbar.
8. "Batman" (1989) VS. "The Dark Knight" 
His old vs. new episodes are terrific specials where he compares an original movie to its remake or reimagining and my favorite is his comparison of the original “Batman” to “The Dark Knight”.  His comparisons between the two films are interesting, he brings up a couple of things from the original that I had never really considered before and it’s always fun to have a big Batman themed video. Even though I didn’t agree with opinion on which of these two is better, I still thought his explanations were good and it had me consistently interested in what he had to say.     
7. NC’s Top 11 Underrated Nostalgic Classics 
One of his best top 11 reviews by far because this one really takes me back to my childhood and it’s such a rare treat to see the Nostalgia Critic put aside all the silly jokes and honestly come forth with a discussion on old films that he feels deserve more attention. While I don’t exactly agree with all the films on this list, I certainly agree with most of them, especially the film at number 1 on this list and it’s also just a really nice treat to look over all these great films that people hardly ever notice. It’s warm, it’s cheerful and it perfectly lives up to the title of Nostalgia. 
6. The Return of the Nostalgic Commercials: "We'll Be Right Back..."
 This was part of a trilogy of episodes where the Nostalgia Critic literally just looks at odd and silly commercials that we grew up with as kids and it’s such a joy to see just how funny some of these advertisements can get. Personally, it was this middle episode titled “We’ll Be Right Back” that had me laughing the most. This one had all the really funny commercials to look at like the “Bubble Thing” product and this crazy kid that loves Nerf guns. But the big advertisement that steals this special is the “Wonder Boner” advertisement, I can’t even express in words how funny that was. Overall, his commercial specials where an absolute joy to watch and it was this middle episode that easily stands as one of the NC’s best experiences.
5. NC reviews "Pokémon: The First Movie" 
I’ll always regard the first Pokémon movie as one of the absolute worst experiences of my child hood, even as a kid this film sucked the big one. Honestly, of all the bad movies that the Nostalgia Critic reviewed, there was no greater joy then seeing him bash this film. The jokes he makes in this review are brilliant, the delivery is great, and this was actually one of his very first episodes that got me hooked into watching the show. A lot of his early reviews were really good because they were all for fun, without as much screaming and yelling. But it’s this review that I’ll always regard as his best, classic review.    
4. That Guy With The Glasses: Team Brawl 
Now this was something special, at the end of his very first year on the website, the NC celebrates by giving us this mega episode with all these different characters and reviews from his website and other sites getting together for this ridicules epic battle. At the time, I never would have expected to see something this big, this crazy and this over the top on an internet show. There are lots of crazy effects, lots of fun slapstick fighting and lots of terrific guest characters, including the Angry Video Game Nerd, who had one last fight with the NC. It’s too good to be real and it was just too fun to have for just one year, that’s why at the end of every season, there’d be another yearly anniversary episode that brought all these silly internet characters together.   
3. The complete Disneycember Marathon 
By the time his last season came around, a lot of his reviews were just becoming stupid and even a bit unwatchable. But then in December 2011, he does something outstanding called Disneycember. This was a series of short reviews of every single classic animated Disney movie and this time, he reviewed them as himself (Doug Walker) as opposed to the Nostalgia Critic character. I’m a big fan of classic animated Disney movies and while I didn’t agree with every opinion of his regarding some of these films, it still felt like one of the most truly Nostalgic things he’s ever done. I loved listening to his honest opinions of all these classic movies, I loved how short and simple they were and I’ve actually always wanted someone to just go down the list of every traditional animated Disney movie and share their thoughts on them, so this was like a mini dream come true for me.   
2. NC’s Top 11 Coolest Clichés 
This is my favorite of his top 11 lists because it really felt like a celebration of things that we love to see in movies. There are hardly any jokes or rants, it’s just a perfectly loving tribute to the stuff we enjoy in film and it’s a rare case in which I agreed with just about everything he listed. It’s just a really fun video and it’s the one NC episode that I find myself re-watching the most.
1. Suburban Knights (The 3 Year Anniversary Special in 7 parts) 

 Unlike the first year anniversary, which was just one big, fun, fight, this third year anniversary was an epic little comedy adventure that spanned over seven parts. The premise goes like this, the Nostalgia Critic and his team of reviewers from his website dress up as classic fantasy characters from movies and video games, they then head out on a hilarious and relatively exciting little adventure filled with lots of fun battle scenes, crazy jokes, great music, nice little character moments, including some hilarious new characters and an awesome villain character. The story is surprisingly competent for an internet made movie and while other yearly anniversaries would be a comedic adventure, they never reached the same highlights that this special has to offer. I love the whole medieval adventure theme, the passing is great and it just seems to feature every great thing that the Nostalgia Critic has to offer.  

Runner Up’s include: Doug's Top 10 Movies He Likes But Everybody Else Hates, NC’s Moonwalker review, To Boldly Flee: 8 part series, Batman and Robin review, all other Halloween reviews, Tom and Jerry: The Movie Review, all Christmas Reviews, Howard the Duck review, Every other Old Vs. New, Top 11 Villain Songs, The Room review, Animaniacs Tribute, NC’s Top 11 Drug PSAs, Top 11 Dumbest Spider-Man Moments, The Wizard review, The Langoliers review and NC’s Top 11 Batman The Animated Series Episodes.    
Biggest Laugh out Loud Moments
As an extra bonus, here are my top ten biggest laugh out loud moments from the Nostalgia Critic episodes.    
11. Girls mud fighting from the NC’s review of “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation 
10. Non-censored Duck from the NC’s review of “Howard the Duck
9. Mara Wilson’s cameo from the NC’s review of “A Simple Wish”.
8. Captain Planet educating kids about Aids from the NC’s review of “Captain Planet”.
7. Chasing down Casper from the NC’s review of “Casper”.
6. Pee-Wee Herman’s drug PSA from the NC’s Top 11 Drug PSA’s  
5. Zack Morris over the top costume in the NC’s review of “Saved by the Bell”.
4. The “Bat Credit Card” gag from the NC’s review of “Batman and Robin”.
3. Reacting to Tommy Wiseau’s bad acting from the NC’s review of “The Room”.
2. The Wonder boner advertisement from the NC’s second commercial special.
1. Baby Arnold Schwarzenegger from the NC’s review of “Junior”.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Commercialism in Film (The Wizard)

      We all know that an advertisement is meant to get people to buy a product, but there are other forms of commercialism that find a way to get their sails to attention of an audience. Product Integration is the term and it’s when a program revolves around a product. This is when a TV show or movie sub-consciously tells you to buy a product that’s featured in the show or film. Enter the 1989 motion picture titled “The Wizard”, a harmless little family flick but in reality, it’s a theatrical Nintendo commercial in disguise as a feature film. However, the product placement was almost to excessive for the films own good, because this movie was a rare case in which the audience was far more interested in the products than the actual film. The plot revolves around kids that participate in a big Nintendo game tournament, and from that synopsis on, we see kids playing popular Nintendo games, speaking in game lingo, showing off arcade games and sneak peeks to games that haven’t been released yet. The most notable teaser is when the kids play “Super Mario Brothers 3”, a highly anticipated NES game that wouldn’t be released for another couple months.  
         There are also moments in the film when kids would brag about owning every single Nintendo game available at the time and if kids watching the movie wanted to be as awesome as the characters featured in this film, they’d have to buy as many Nintendo games as their parents can afford. The best example of an advertisement in this film would be the introduction of “The Power Glove”. This was one of the very first game controller accessories for the NES, allowing you to play video games without a regular game controller. In the film, one of the challengers in the tournament shows off his skills by playing a racing game with it. Then the Power Glove is never mentioned again and has nothing to do with the plot. So you could have honestly chopped out those 40 seconds of the movie, re-packaged it to air on TV and there you go, it’s a commercial for the Power Glove.  
       Nintendo games weren’t the only things to get an indorsement in this film, for the climax, we get this big chase scene throughout the back lots of “Universal Studios”, showing off all the attractions and sets. It’s also no coincidence that the Universal theme park would open up for the first time in Florida that following year. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also a scene when the characters visit the two big dinosaur statues in Cabazon California, a popular film set used in Tim Burton’s 1985 classic, “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure”. Overall, “The Wizard” was a critical failure for fans and critics alike but it succeeded as Nintendo’s biggest advertising money maker and a perfect example of product placement in film.     

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Creepshow (1982) (Movie Review)

     The horror movie genera is one that mostly takes itself seriously, but once and a while comes something unique that goes for both fun and creativity. The 1982 motion picture titled “Creepshow” is perhaps as unique as horror movies get, with a style, presentation and personality unlike any other. 
It’s a theatrical anthology of five spooky short stories combined into one film, but unlike other horror anthologies, this film also fits right in with our modern-day comic-book genera. While it doesn’t have a direct source, the majority of the film takes inspiration from many of the classic 1950’s DC and EC comics like “House of Mystery” and “Tales from the Crypt”. As such, "Creepshowcaptures the look and style of a comic book, with graphic panels, colorful visuals that pop on screen, comic-book strip transitions, word boxes and animated segues appearing all throughout the film. While many resent superhero movies have emulated similar aesthetics and tones, it was “Creepshow” that got the ball rolling, and can even be sighted as something ahead of it’s time. As such, it’s one of those rare movies that has no limit to how wild, fun, inventive, frightening or disgusting it can get. Horror Anthology’s in general are always exciting, as you never know what you’ll get next, but this is the one bound by no rules, and anything can happen.

        One of the films greatest achievements was bringing together some of the Horror genera’s greatest pioneers together for one project. The first is director George A. Romero, who’s often cited as the great Godfather of the horror genera, as he created two of the most influential Zombie classics “Night of the Living Dead” and “Dawn of the Dead”. The second is famed Author Stephen King, who’s resume consists of such thrilling titles like “Carrie”, “The Stand”, “Firestarter”, “Cujo” and “Salem’s Lot” … just to name a phew. Not only did Stephen King write the screenplay, but two of the episodes are adapted from his short stories. In essence, George A. Romero paired with Stephen King is just as exciting as merging Frankenstein with Dracula. The last talent to note is Tom Savini, who’s special effects, and makeup designs have become staples in horror cinema. As you’d expect, he’s the visionary behind the creature designs of the film, but he also contributes to the overall comic book presentation and style of “Creepshow”.  

      It’s probably best to single out the individual shorts, and review them one at a time. The first episode is titled “Father’s Day”, which revolves around a grumpy old man who comes back from the dead as a zombie to seek revenge on his greedy family members. This is easily my least favorite episode of the bunch, as it’s about as basic a premise as they get with no real twists or excitement. One thing to take note of is Viveca Lindfors straight-faced performance as the bitter Aunt Bedelia. I’ll also give credit to the make-up design of the Zombie, which is one of the most original and grotesque I’ve ever seen. Still, this is a weaker episode, doesn’t leave much of an impression, and features some really odd moments ... like a Zombie using “The Force” to drop a tombstone on one of his victims.

      Next is “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill”, which is easily the goofiest short of them all. A meteor crashes on a farm and spreads some kind of plant vegetation across the land, and slowly transforms a farmer into foliage. It’s kind of a neat premise to have something as simple as plant growth be the main situation at hand. The real reason this episode stands out is because of Stephen King’s over the top performance as the farmer. It’s a fun contrast to see the guy who scared people with countless frightening stories to be this goofy dope of a farmer. Once again, I wouldn’t exactly call this a great short, but it’s certainly superior to the first, as it’s at least more memorable.

     The middle short is titled “Something to Tide you Over”, and straight to the point … this is my favorite episode of this whole anthology. It’s a far more serious and grounded tale revolving around a vengeful husband, who lays out a nefarious plan to do-in both his wife and her new lover. The appeal of this short is due to the villainess lead performance from one of my favorite late actors Leslie Nielson. I’ve been a fan of Nielsen for years, namely his iconic comedy roles in films like “Airplane” and “The Naked Gun” trilogy. Seeing him out of his wheel house, and in the role of a vengeful mastermind is quite admirable, and his performance highlights just how versatile he was as an actor. The way he calmly talks to his victims, and taunts them as they suffer is very unsettling, yet it’s a highly entertaining delivery. The culmination of his revenge is an unbearably suspenseful sequence in which both his wife and her new boyfriend are buried neck deep on the beach as the tide comes in. Another noteworthy talent in this episode is the boyfriend, who's played well by Ted Danson of "Cheers" fame. The story does get over the top near the end with more gruesome creatures, and a spooky haunted house atmosphere, but for the most part, this is the most subdued, well-paced and most genuinely suspenseful short of the whole feature.

    Episode four is titled “The Crate”, which is a duel story revolving around a husband who’s suffering at the mercy of a cranky wife, as well as a mysterious box that contains a savage monster. This is another solid short, with some electrifying buildup, exciting creature action, and some genuinely effective scares. Perhaps the most startling moment of the whole film is our first glimpse of the creature, which is nothing more than two piercing yellow eyes glaring through the holes of the crate. The creature looks like a hybrid between Bigfoot, and a Tasmanian Devil, which is great. It’s the longest of all the episodes, but it’s well plotted and delivers cheesy, B monster entertainment at its finest.

      The last episode titled “They’re Creeping up on You”, revolves around a cruel manager, who’s also a germaphobe, and is constantly being attacked by bugs in his clean room. This short goes straight for the gross out factor, and it doesn’t shy away from some unforgettably shocking visuals. “Bravo” even labeled it as one of the one-hundred scariest moments in film because of just how repulsive it gets. If you can’t handle the image of cockroaches bursting out of a man’s body, you should probably skip this one. While not my absolute favorite episode, it is the most effective to close out the movie, and the nasty imagery in this short leaves the most effective sting on the audience.

     Now, I have to mention both the prologue and the epilogue, which in my view is the absolute worst aspect of the film. Things are at least off to a good start, as it’s a rainy October night with house-hold Halloween decorations taking up the scenery. We see an abusive father frustrated with his son for reading the actual Creepshow comic book, which effectively foreshadows certain events, and sets the tone of the movie quiet well. My one issue with this whole thing is the little boy, who is clearly disturbed and twisted from the start. Maybe if this kid was just a misunderstood innocent, I’d be okay, but he’s clearly evil from the start, and the dad was right to scold him for it. We return to this family during the epilogue, and this right here is the moment that ruins the entire experience for me. While dark comedy had been laced through the film, this boy’s methods of getting revenge on his dad are down right sick, and disturbed. Basically, he kills his own dad, which is terrible, but it’s his means of doing-in his dad that really kills all my positive feels for this movie. I mean, I still like this movie overall, but it would absolutely rank higher among my favorite horror films if it weren’t for this awful and tasteless ending.

Creepshow 2 (1987)

     Without going into a full-on review, I want to lightly talk about the 1987 sequel simply titled “Creepshow 2”. George Romero, Tom Savini and Stephen King are all back for this film, giving it that same fun comic book, anthology style, and adapting more of Stephen king’s short stories. 
However, the style is noticeably downgraded from before, and it lacks that same colorful presentation that characterized its predecessor. The real down side is that this movie only features three sorts, which robs the film of the fun variety present in the first film. These shorts now have to be stretched out to relentlessly long lengths, and they overstay their welcome in the process. This especially applies to the first short titled “Old Chief Wood'n head”, which wasn’t even that interesting to begin with. Basically, a group of bullies pick on an old store owner, and then a statue from the shop comes to life to take revenge of those bad kids. It’s so simple, yet it takes up too much of the film. The middle short titled “The Raft” suffers from annoying characters, but makes up for it with an original and suspenseful premise. A group of teens get stuck on a raft in the lake, with a mysteries substance underneath that can melt flesh. It’s a unique situation, with some effective tension, and it could have almost worked had the characters been more likable. To finally pore salt on the wound, we have the final short titled “The Hitch-hiker”, and this right here is my absolute favorite of any Creepshow short. This episode revolves around a woman who’s coming home late one-night after work, gets lost, and accidentally runs into this pore man on the road … taking his life. In the heat of panic, she drives off, and gets even more lost in the woods. 
She’s having a hard time copping with what just happened, and things get even more intense as she finds herself followed by the corpse of the man she hit. At first, the episode doesn’t establish if it’s his ghost back for revenge or if he’s a figment of her troubled imagination. Either way, there’s nothing quiet as terrifying as being followed at night by a man you just accidentally murdered. The tension in this episode is great because whenever she tries to escape this guy, he always reappears again, either on the road or even in her own car. Even his appearance gets more and more decayed every time, which is really creepy. It’s a deeply thrilling concept pulled off very well, with an eerie atmosphere, and plenty of scares.

     In my opinion, if the “The Hitch-hiker” episode had been switched out with the “Father’s Day” short from the first … and that horrible epilogue dropped … then 1982’s “Creepshow” would have a secure spot as one of my top ten favorite horror movies. The sequel "Creepshow 2" certainly has value for featuring my favorite short of the bunch, but it just doesn’t excuse the blandness of everything else. For all my issues with the first movie, it still had an original look, feel, personality, and has just held up as the better alternative. 
Over the years, there have been a number of Dark-Comedy horror themed anthologies trying to replicate what “Creepshow” perfected, but none have them have come close. While my feelings toured “Creepshow” are very mixed, it’s still something I enjoy re-watching now and then around the Halloween season. It’s one of those rare horror films that doesn’t aim for serious scares and instead just busts loose for some fun. Actually, it’s like the grownup version of the “Goosebumps” series I grew up with back in the 90’s, as it likewise combines campy frights with creativity and atmosphere. Honestly, I’d give “Creepshow” a slot alongside both “The Shining” and “Misery” as one of my favorite movies adapted from Stephen Kings written work. The special effects are appealing, the direction is stylish, and in the end, this spooky anthology highlights just how fun a horror movie can be.

I give the 1982 horror anthology “Creepshow” … 3 ½ stars out of 5.

I give it’s 1987 sequel “Creepshow 2” … 3 stars out of 5.

                 Happy Halloween!