Totally Killer (2023)
I was a bit skeptical concerning TOTALLY KILLER mostly out of loyalty to the fine film that is THE FINAL GIRLS (2015) which it seemed to be aping. In reality, it probably owes more to the HAPPY DEATH DAY flicks and I gotta say it eventually won me over due to its sense of humor and commitment to not caring if I bought its flimsy time travel logic or not. (Ultimately I preferred it to the more tedious HAPPY DEATH DAY films but it can never touch the magic of the aforementioned THE FINAL GIRLS). SABRINA’s forever teen Kiernan Shipka stars as Jamie Hughes, a gal who travels back to arguably the most eighties year in the eighties, 1987 with plans to thwart a slasher serial killer in a mask that resembles Max Headroom. Doing so will hopefully prevent the eventual Halloween night murder of her mother (Julie Bowen of AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN PARIS ). Bloodshed ensues along with choice tunes by New Order & Bananarama. Much fun is had with Jaimie being consistently shocked by just how casually politically incorrect everyone was back in the day, particularly her beloved parents. Personally I wouldn’t have minded if this bubbly BACK TO THE FUTURE meets (pick an eighties slasher) lark had the gumption to explore darker territory (had more gruesome kills) but it’s got more than a couple twists that keep you guessing and the cast is obviously having a blast with the material. Plus, there can never be too many horror movies that take place on Halloween as far as I’m concerned so I’ll happily add this to my yearly October watch pile.
Pet Sematary: Bloodlines (2023)
I love the idea of a PET SEMATARY prequel that explores the town of Ludlow’ Maine’s past, the legend of deceased soldier Tim Baterman, the Native American origin of the cursed gravesite and the youth of cautioning oldster Judd Crandall. I’d certainly prefer it offshoot from Mary Lambert’s beloved take on the material rather than 2019’s misguided remake (I’ll never get over how they were somehow able to strip legendary traumatizer Zelda of her power to terrify) but I'm game to give it a shot. Unfortunately, PET SEMATARY: BLOODLINES frustratingly buries its endless potential along with its notable cast (David Duchovny, Henry Thomas, Pam Grier, Samantha Mathis and likable newcomer Jackson White) in muck both figuratively and literally (the climax degenerates to an underground mud wrestling match). Worse still, there’s an ever prevalent vacuum of actual horror; the undead look merely peeved, zombie cats are AWOL and the audience is inexcusably never assaulted by an actor attempting an irksome Maine accent. In fact, nothing new is offered besides the highly unwanted left field assertion that the reanimated will only die if you destroy their eyes. Lambert’s original take on King’s novel may have been off-kilter (and even courting campy) but at least it was colorful, unpredictable and unafraid to get weird, this true step backwards is just plain toothless.
Woodchipper Massacre (’88)
Here is a reminder that a movie doesn’t have to be technically brilliant to be entertaining. WOODCHIPPER MASSACRE cost a couple hundred bucks to make, was filmed on video in Connecticut in 1988 and is highly flawed (every hokey line is SCREAMED to assure it is recorded) and yet is a surprisingly fun black comedy. It’s sorta a cross between THE CAT IN THE HAT (kids getting into trouble while the authority figure is away) and LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (inadvertent murderers make matters worse while attempting to hide their crime). Highly obnoxious Aunt Tess (Patricia McBride), a Halloween-wigged grating cross between “Billie” (Adrienne Barbeau) in CREEPSHOW and Momma (Anne Ramsey) in THROW MOMMA FROM THE TRAIN, is tasked with caretaking her nephews (writer/director Jon McBride, pipsqueak Tom Casiello) and niece (eye-rolling sarcasm queen Denice Edeal) while their father is away on a nondescript business trip. Aunt Tess is a veritable harpy who when she attempts to confiscate young Tom’s recently acquired RAMBO-knife is accidentally stabbed and killed by it instead. Grim humor abounds as the three resourceful siblings eye the Woodchipper Pop rented out for the weekend to take care of any evidence and an unplanned visit from Tess’s psychotic son complicates matters further. I’m not going to lie, I snickered throughout this movie during a time that I really did not wish to snicker at anything and for that I’m forever in its debt. If you have a sick sense of humor and love to see awful people who beg for a comeuppance get the one they richly deserve, I highly suggest tracking this hilarious homemade treat down (look no further than Tubi).