It’s become a tradition to have the first week of the annual Hoop-Tober horror marathon be a bit of a mixed bag. Last year I had a fantastic Stephen King adaptation in Andy Muschietti’s It; this year I had to deal with the drudgery of Tobe Hooper’s adaptation of King’s short story The Mangler. And it was a double dose of not-great Robert Englund performances: besides starring (under tons of makeup) in The Mangler, I also had to reckon with perhaps the worst Freddy Krueger entry with A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. It wasn’t all terrible, though. Between the slam dunk that is Panos Cosmatos’s psychedelic revenge nightmare that is Mandy, the uncomfortable indie black comedy of Prevenge and the gruesomely fun throwback that is the 1988 remake of The Blob I was able to salvage the opening week of the marathon quite nicely.
And I’m already working my way through a killer second week, so enough of the opening jibber-jabber. Let’s get to the review excerpts below.
Oh Mandy…you are many things. You are a popular Barry Manilow song. But you are also the latest triptastic brooding visceral revenge-fest from Panos Cosmatos, who ups the ante on everything from his previous film Beyond the Black Rainbow to craft a fever dream of a film. On the surface level a retro revenge flick the performances and direction blend together to delve deeper into a wellspring of madness and trauma that revels in its lush and lurid visual poetry (full review here).
Playing firmly within the schlocky horror camp of the original ’58 feature but also going full hog on the best effects the late 80s can offer, the remake of The Blob hits all the right notes with a gleeful grossness and even a shade of social commentary thanks to a screenplay from Frank Darabont and some fun direction from Chuck Russell. It’s not a classic, but it’s an underrated gem that provides a great time if you give it a chance (full review here).
I’m still trying to suss out how much of my uncomfortableness over Prevenge stems from my being a man, and never being able to come close to experiencing the trauma that comes with being an expectant mother. I suspect writer/director/star Alice Lowe counts on that as part of what is a terrifying brave film that also manages to be a jet black horror comedy (full review here).
Oh, Tobe Hooper. I wish I could say I love your work more than I hate it, but after a certain point it gets harder and harder to find the good, especially in something as monumentally silly as THE MANGLER…Loosely based on the Stephen King short story, the action revolves around a dynamic iron press…a demonic laundry press that will eat you and spit you out as a piece of bloody (but folded) laundry (full review here).
In a word, oof. Freddy’s not only become a pale parody of himself, but the kills have become pale parodies as well – by having Freddy “play” in the dream worlds of the mental patient kids in Dream Warriors we’ve lost the real dread of terror coming from mundane dreams….Craven understood that the horror comes from the nightmare mixing with reality, but here Harlin paints everything in such broad strokes you never once feel that unease (full review here).
Like I said, next week has some killer stuff, including a far more successful King adaptation courtesy of one Mr. John Carpenter, a fantastic moody piece of found footage out of Australia, a gorgeous and lush take on fairy tales, a second take on a brand new film capitalizing on the rush of 80s nostalgia as well as one of the biggest horror hits this year, so check in next week and see what’s left of the carnage that is Hoop-Tober.
Until then, keep it Blood Red.