HALLOWEENIE (Pete & Pete)
Ever since season two came out, i always make it a point to watch this episode (which is one of my all time top 5 Pete & Pete episodes ever) during the Halloween season. It brings back so many memories. Aside from the tv show being a major part of my childhood, this specific episode brings back Halloween memories of all the stupid shit me and friends use to do during Halloween once we got to old to dress up and knock on doors for candy, which is basically what this episode is about. In 'Halloweenie', big Pete realizes he's getting too old for Halloween which causes a problem for little Pete. Little Pete wants to break the record for getting the most candy, but he cant do it alone and needs his older brothers help. At the same time, a gang of highschoolers called; The Pumpkin Eaters (led by recurring character; Endless Mike), plan to not only destroy Halloween for all the little kids in town, but hey also try to recruit big Pete in to their gang. Now big Pete is torn between weather or not he should help his little brother on Halloween or grow up and say goodbye to trick or treating. Any Pete & Pete episode with Endless Mike is gold. He's one of the shows best characters (even more than Artie as far as I'm concerned). If you ever wanted to turn anyone on to 'Pete & Pete', THIS would be the episode for sure. This one really highlights the shows unique sense of humor, which i like to call 'G-rated dark humor'.
This is one of my all time favorite movies, and one of my greatest late night cable tv discoveries as a little kid. In 'Parents' (directed by Bob Balaban), a little boy suspects that his parents are serial killing cannibals. His suspicions arise due to his parent's love of eating only meat and the horrific nightmares/visions hes has that show his parents in a disturbing light. This is one of the most original (and underrated) movies of the 80's. 'Parents' has the spirit of; 'Pete & Pete', 'blue velvet', 'heathers' and 'are you afraid of the dark' all rolled up in to one movie. The acting in the movie is really great. In fact, Randy Quaid was nominated for an independent spirit award for his performance in this. The lead kid in this movie never went on to act in anything else, which is a shame because he did a really good job. Also, Bob Balaban has never directed or written anything quite like this ever since. In fact, this seems more like a David Lynch movie. As underrated and forgotten about as this movie may be, it has a small cult audience, and is slowly getting rediscovered thanks to the hulu and the youtube movie channel. Also, even though you cant see any traces of 'Parents' in any of his work, this is one of Darren Aronofsky's favorite movies.
THE REFLECTING SKIN
This movie would make an amazing double feature with 'Parents'. 'The Reflecting Skin' shares the same basic plot as 'Parents'; the disturbing imagination of a child who suspects the adults around him are evil. This movie, like 'Parents' is also VERY underrated. 'The Reflecting Skin' tells the story of 'Seth' and the creepy Midwestern town he lives in. He comes from a dysfunctional home (his father is not only a drunk but has been labeled the town pedophile due to a misunderstanding that took place many years ago and his mother is overly religious and physically abusive). His brother (Played by Viggo Mortensen in one of his earliest roles), has come back from WW2 with a disease that's making him weaker and weaker. He's absolutely convinced that the British woman who lives next door to him is a vampire (she eventually becomes his older brothers girlfriend). And all of his friends are being killed off by a group a serial killers that pray on the young boys in the neighborhood (this aspect of the movie is actually very open to interpretation in that the serial killers might be a split personality of 'Seth' himself, who in reality may be the one killing his friends). This movie has its share of funny scenes, but at the end of the day its a serious film. Like some of the other movies on my Halloween movie lists, this isn't so much a horror movie as it is a psychological thriller/drama. The soundtrack to this movie is great, btw.
This cult Japanese film from the late 70's has regained a new cult following due its recent midnight screenings at IFC and its addition to the criterion collection. If it weren't for criterion/janus films, most people (myself included) wouldn't be exposed to a lot the great Japanese films outside of Kurosawa and Ozu. Even though 'House' is more of a satirical and somewhat cheesy movie, it still falls in to the same category of films like; kwadain or jigoku (which have also been released by criterion), just a lot less serious. This surreal horror/comedy/musical will probably leave you laughing more than frightened, but it still possesses the spirit of Halloween. In 'House', main character; 'Gorgeous' takes her six friends (each with an equally peculiar nickname; 'kung-fu', 'fantasy', 'mac', 'melody', 'sweet' and 'prof') to her aunts house (whom she hasn't seen for years) for the summer, to get away from her father and new stepmother. What they don't know is that not only is Gorgeous's aunt a ghost, but the house they're staying in is haunted. In fact, the actual house itself starts to take on a life of its own and one by one, each of the girls is killed during their stay at the haunted house, each in a different hilarious way (one is killed by a piano that comes to life, one is beheaded, etc etc). The 'House' criterion dvd comes out at the perfect time for the Halloween season (October 26th). This is a great movie to watch with a group of friends.
'Fire in the sky' might have one of the best alien abduction scenes ever, but the entire movie overall is pretty average. Communion on the other hand is a great movie all around (weather the events are true or not), that kinda got forgotten about over time. The movie, based on the true story of an alien abduction just like 'Fire in the Sky', stars Christopher Walken in the lead role as a man recovering from an alien abduction and the toll it takes on him and his family. This is probably one of Christopher Walken's last performances where actually ACTS instead of playing a character of himself which is pretty much what he's been for the last 15 years or so. In fact, Walken's performance is just as creepy as the aliens in the movie (christopher walken actually kinda looks like an alien to be honest). Speaking of the aliens in the film, that might be the one aspect of the movie that falls short (which is probably due to the budget, judging by how cheap the aliens look). In 'Communion' Walken is visited by two different kinds of Alien race. The first kind are reminiscent of the aliens at the end of close encounters (skinny bodies, big heads and big eyes). While the second group of aliens Walken comes in contact with are little black troll-like aliens. Some people may be turned off by the cheapness of the alien suits and special effects, while some might not mind. If can put that aspect of the movie aside, you'll be able to enjoy 'Communion' for the 1/2 science fiction, 1/2 psychological drama that it is.
Any movie that Gaspar Noe counts as one of inspirations is going to intrigue me. Thanks to a multi-region dvd, I was finally able to see this after years and years of only youtube clips. When you finally see 'Angst', and then think back on Noe's work, it'll all make sense as to why this is one of the favorite movies of the guy responsible for 'Irreversible'. In 'Angst', we follow a psychopath who's just been released from prison and the difficult time he has adjusting to life on the outside. It's clear that he should've never been released, and he turns to killing again. A lot of people will look at 'Angst' as nothing more than a slasher film that's just violent for the sake of being violent. But what sets 'Angst' apart from typical slasher movies is its cinematography, which makes me even more sense that it would be one of Gaspar Noe's favorite movies (the cinematography in 'Enter The Void' is especially reminiscent of 'Angst'). In fact I wouldn't be surprised if the cinematography in 'La Haine' was partially inspired by 'Angst'. Similar to how movies like; Bladerunner & Element of Crime, Vertigo & Lost Highway, Parent & The Reflecting Skin and Barton Fink & Eraserhead go together, 'Angst' has a similar relationship with 'Henry: Portrait of Serial Killer'. This movie isn't for everyone.
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
Vampires seem to be 'in' these days, so I thought id mention at least one of the few good vampire movies out there (i still have yet to see 'Thirst'). Seeing the remake to this movie last night, made me go back and watch the original when I got home. Even though I found the remake surprisingly good (which takes a lot for me to say, because I went in to the remake wanting it to be bad), it made me appreciate the original much more. The remake still retains the spirit of the original version. The story of a lonely boy that becomes friends with a child vampire and the "complicated" relationship between the vampire girl and her 'father'. But the remake is more of a horror movie, whereas the original Swedish version is pretty much an art house drama with a few isolated scenes of gore & violence here & there. The American remake has more of a traditional horror movie soundtrack (tense, dramatic strings that build up to an obvious vampire attack), way more blood, and (like most remakes) there are some parts of the original that were left out in the remake. The biggest contrast between the original and the remake is how its shot. Specifically the lighting of each film. Because the remake is made to be more of a traditional horror movie, the look of the movie is very "dark". It seemed like most of the scenes took place at night. This is a HUGE contrast to the original which is very bright and makes great use of the snowy landscape. The bright white look of the original accentuates the violent and bloody scenes. 'Let The Right One In' is easily one of the best vampire movies to come out in years.