Trick ‘r Treat (2007) Review

Happy Halloween, everyone! This movie was an unplanned watch over the weekend. So, there will be two horror reviews from me today: this one and later on one of my Blind Spot choices I’d already planned to be the end to my October Horror Month. As for Trick ‘r Treat, I’d not even heard of it until fairly recently. I didn’t necessarily expect much from it as the majority of modern horrors suck. Well, Hell – this was a pleasant surprise! Let’s talk about it…

Trick ‘r Treat (2007)

Directed & Written by Michael Dougherty

Starring: Dylan Baker, Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, Rochelle Aytes, Quinn Lord, Lauren Lee Smith, Moneca Delain, Tahmoh Penikett, Leslie Bibb

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Trick ‘r Treat centers on four Halloween-related horror stories. One common element that ties the stories together is the presence of Sam, a mysterious child trick-or-treater wearing shabby orange pajamas with a burlap sack over his head, that makes an appearance in all the stories whenever someone breaks Halloween traditions.

My Opinion:

This movie somehow completely passed me by when it came out. I saw a couple of bloggers give it positive reviews last year so I’ve since been curious about it but still didn’t rush to try see it. Thank you to the hubby for seeing the DVD cheap the other night and picking it up for me as a Halloween treat! 🙂 I hadn’t planned on actually watching any horror movies for Halloween this year but I’m glad I did because I really enjoyed this one. It has the best “Halloween spirit” of anything I’ve seen in a very long time.

I do love horror anthologies. I’ve always been a fan of this format, though it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Yes, this film could be accused of being somewhat derivative as it’s very much like watching Tales From The Crypt meets Creepshow meets Goosebumps. It even throws in the comic book panel thing. Well, I’m not going to complain as all work is derivative anyway. As long as something good & enjoyable comes from it, I don’t really mind.

I thought this film was quite clever in the way it connected these four stories (actually five stories, including the opening to the film). Sam the adorable/creepy trick-or-treater with the sack on his head makes an appearance in each story as do the various characters within each of the other stories. It all takes place during Halloween festivities in a small Ohio town.

What I love about anthologies is that you get a variety of stories and everyone will have a different favorite. I’m still not sure which is my favorite from Trick ‘r Treat. Possibly the school bus massacre? Or maybe the Sam segment… I don’t know! The cool thing is that I liked all of them. And I’m super picky, especially with this genre.

I’ll say something quick about each segment (using the names for each as listed at Wikipedia – I don’t know if they have specific titles):


The Opening:

This is a short story that opens the film and for some reason doesn’t seem to get counted as I keep reading that there are “four stories”. Like the rest, though, it’s interwoven throughout the film as we see these characters again (a Halloween-hating woman & her Halloween-loving boyfriend). It’s a decent opening and a throwback to Eighties slashers.


The Principal:

This is one of the two segments that I’d label “horror comedy”, yet I haven’t seen this movie called a horror comedy anywhere. Actually, the entire film has fun comedic elements so I’m not sure why it’s labelled strictly as horror/thriller.

When I got this DVD, I immediately looked up the film’s director & writer (because I’m a weirdo nerd) and discovered it’s from the guy who did Christmas horror comedy Krampus (Michael Dougherty). Krampus wasn’t perfect but I did really enjoy it and you can very much tell that these films are from the same person (especially the Meet Sam segment below, which had a very similar feel to Krampus). Dougherty hasn’t done a lot of directing – he’s mostly been a writer for things like X-Men 2, Superman Returns, X-Men: Apocalypse… Screw that superhero stuff – he needs to make more stuff like Trick ‘r Treat & Krampus! This is what he seems to be best at. Where’s the Trick ‘r Treat sequel supposedly in development? I now want a sequel.

Oops – I went off on a tangent. The Principal! This was a funny segment & you gotta love Dylan Baker as the “school principal with a dark secret”. He was perfect for this role – that dude is so weird. Anyone here ever watch The Good Wife besides me? Probably not but he’s so similar here to his great unhinged character from that show. Not my favorite segment but it’s good & probably the most “Creepshow“-like.


The School Bus Massacre Revisited:

I really liked this story, although I’ve seen it compared to R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps stories. I can see why there’s the comparison as, overall but especially with this story, this movie was far more tame than I was expecting. Don’t get me wrong, though – this is not a kids’ film so don’t gather the family around for this one on Halloween! 😉 There’s still plenty of blood & violence but it has a great cheesy 80’s vibe as opposed to the sick torture porn shit of today (I can’t stomach those). This story, starring kids telling the tale of the legend of a “school bus massacre” in the town’s past, is minimal on gore but probably the one that’s most in the spirit of Halloween & the scary tales we liked to hear as kids. Fun stuff!


Surprise Party:

This story revolves around four (teenage? twenty-something?) girls on their way to a party & doing the typical “let’s dress slutty for Halloween” thing. Oh, but one of them (Anna Paquin) is a virgin & looking to find a date & make her first time special. I’d assume this is possibly the most popular segment? It’s probably actually the best of the five. It wasn’t the most original if you’ve seen enough horror films but I really liked the direction this story took. Plus there’s some boobage for the male viewers, if you like that sort of thing…


Meet Sam:

If I had to pick a favorite segment, I’d probably go with this one in which we finally meet that adorably creepy sack-head trick-or-treater we see throughout all the stories. “Sam” is a great design – it had to be difficult to make something so cute yet scary as f*^k at the same time. This bit is silly in a wonderfully retro-Eighties way and I would assume this is either people’s favorite or least favorite of the five. If you just go with it & have fun in the way I believe the director/writer intended, you should really enjoy the Meet Sam segment. If you liked Krampus, you’ll like this. And vice versa.

Conclusion (the movie’s & mine):

After our five stories, the movie neatly wraps things up for each of them and gives a satisfying conclusion as far as horror films go. Again, I liked how cleverly interwoven the stories were and would only have one small complaint about something that felt forced & didn’t quite add up (involving the other story the school principal is a part of – it made no sense how he came to be there…). That’s a minor thing, though – I really enjoyed this film overall and think it’s a fantastic one to watch each Halloween.

But I admit that this movie is going to be more to my taste than to a younger generation because of its obvious Eighties influences. I looked up the director’s age afterwards to see if he was the same sort of age as me since it felt like he must have grown up on the same kind of horrors that I did (he is so he clearly did). Younger audiences may not appreciate the tongue-in-cheek humor and may mistake this film for “cheesy” as opposed to an homage to the fun horrors I grew up on and which weren’t meant to be taken so damn seriously. Yeah, I enjoyed Trick ‘r Treat quite a bit and am even giving it the highest rating of everything I’ve reviewed this month. Good old-fashioned horror fun. Bring on the sequel!

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Fido (2006) Review

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Fido (2006) Review

Directed by Andrew Currie

Starring:
Carrie-Anne Moss
Billy Connolly
Dylan Baker
Kesun Ray
Henry Czerny
Tim Blake Nelson

Running time: 91 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Fido is a 2006 Canadian zombie comedy film that takes place in a 1950s-esque alternate universe where radiation from space has turned the dead into zombies. In order to continue living normal lives, communities are fenced with the help of a governing corporation named Zomcon. Zomcon provides collars with accompanying remote controls to control the zombies’ hunger for flesh so as to use them as slaves or servants.

A bullied boy named Timmy befriends the zombie his mother has bought to be their household servant & names him ‘Fido’.

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My Opinion:

I’ve been wanting to see this movie for years. I’m a big fan of zombie movies & enjoy a good zombie comedy. I’ve reviewed quite a few zomcoms on this blog & my favorite by far was The Return Of The Living Dead. Shaun Of The Dead is of course a classic now, Dead Snow was pretty fun, I kind of totally love Warm Bodies for some reason, and Life After Beth was a fairly big disappointment. Where does Fido rank? Well, I certainly liked it more than Life After Beth but it’s a pretty strange film. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting but I appreciate its uniqueness.

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I loved that they set this in what appears to be the 1950s. Has there been another zombie movie set in this time period? It’s a great idea. It’s a cool contrast seeing stereotypical 1950’s perfect housewives using flesh-eating zombies as servants & knowing that those zombies will rip them apart if their remote-controlled domestication collars are removed. It’s like watching an episode of Leave It To Beaver with zombies. Actually, it reminded me a lot of The Stepford Wives (had that been a comedy – I’m not talking about that shitty remake that was supposedly a comedy but sucked and wasn’t funny).

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Fido‘s concept is very clever and I understand that it’s satire but I’m not sure that it ever really lives up to its potential or makes its point. If it has a point? It’s not as obvious as the satire in a straightforward zombie film such as Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead but I suppose it’s maybe making a statement on corporations controlling the living just as the living control the undead with special collars? I don’t know. And although it’s a fun decade to explore as it’s so extremely different from nowadays, the 50’s satire thing has been done before and done better in plenty of other films. Still, it’s a fun movie and I really liked the setting.

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Summary:

There’s not much else I can really say about Fido. I was hoping to like it more than I did as I’ve wanted to see it for ages but, overall, something about it didn’t really work for me. I loved the concept & the setting and thought the comedy worked fairly well. However, I didn’t think the characters were very strong and I lost interest a few times. I was hoping for more exploration of the main characters & their relationships with Billy Connolly’s Fido. Fido himself was disappointing as I suppose I was expecting a more loveable “Bub” type of zombie as in Day Of The Dead. In a way, I think it would have been better if they’d focused a little more on the zombies & their background stories. It’s a clever film but it’s another film that I felt like I “appreciated” more than actually enjoyed.

My Rating: 6/10

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Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987) Guest Review

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Eric of The IPC. Again! Thanks for watching these Hughes films although the majority aren’t your type of thing, Eric. Let’s see if he likes Planes, Trains & Automobiles more than The Breakfast Club. 🙂

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PLANES, TRAINS and AUTOMOBILES (1987)

When I signed up to go about this piece I remembered having seen this before and laughed my ass off and “Gobble Gobble” and “Those AREN”T PILLOWS!!!!” and “Her first baby came out sideways HYYYYYYORK!!” (how do you spell someone disgustingly hocking tobacco) and all around pleasant memories. Then I sat down here to write about it and couldn’t come up with Jack Shit four or five times because I usually write about horror movies and boobs and not about classic comedies that everyone loves and then I was eyeballing my email to Table Nine Disco Parrot and it dawned on me. My Subject line read “P, T & A”… “P, T & A”….. dwell on what those initials stand for in the mind of a guy who watches movies like I do. FILTH….

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Then I took a second to think about whether or not I should take that angle on such a wholesome, pure and chaste movie and then I remembered that scene depicted above and later, this exchange:

Del: You play with your balls a lot.
Neal: I do NOT play with my balls.
Del: Larry Bird doesn’t do as much ball-handling in one night as you do in an hour!
Neal: Are you trying to start a fight?
Del: No. I’m simply stating a fact. That’s all. You fidget with your nuts a lot.
Neal: You know what’d make me happy?
Del: Another couple of balls, and an extra set of fingers?

If no one’s ever seen this and glances at that picture of John Candy mounting Steve Martin, seeing both men with serene and passionate warmth on their faces, I am going to contend that most people will think the two are engaging in a loving and lengthy “Husband Style” intercourse session. I mean, just LOOK how content they look. AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH. “I love you, Poo-Pie,” coos Candy, kissing Martin’s ear. “Let’s consecrate this union….” utters Martin. “The time is now…. NOW is the time….”

FILTH!!!

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Or how about this scene??? Martin comes home from the gym while his lover, Candy, is out cleaning their estate’s Olympic sized swimming pool. He slips into the bathroom to wash the sweat out of his stinking armpits and notices something strange on the floor. It’s his lover’s lover’s underwear!!! Candy has been having a man on the side!!! He’s enraged!!! He’s pissed!!! How can this be??? Theirs was Love Eternal!!!! He envisions the two men exhausting themselves for hours on end while he slaves away at the office. In disgust, he throws the soiled underpants into the toilet and heads to the kitchen for the butcher knife….

FILTH AND SMUT!!!!!

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Trust me – you DO NOT want to know what’s going on under the blanket those two are sharing!!! Well – you might… depending on your taste and… um… er…. interests.

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Martin: Has it been long enough?? Can you go again??
Candy: *shrugs* Should be….. maybe another ten minutes….

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BUSTED!!! Public Exposure!!!!!!

FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH

Wait…. what the fuck have I done here???

SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME

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Screw everything I just wrote. This movie is really fucking hilarious and one of my all time favorite comedies!!

Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987) Guest Review

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This second review of Planes, Trains & Automobiles for the John Hughes Blogathon (you can read the first from Laura at FilmNerdBlog HERE) comes from filmscorehunter of The Cinematic Frontier. Thanks for joining in on this blogathon, filmscorehunter! Let’s find out his opinion on Planes, Trains & Automobiles. 🙂

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Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)

John Hughes will always be remembered for the films he wrote, produced, and/or directed in the 1980s. Of the eight films he directed, only four were actually good. The first three are 1984’s Sixteen Candles, 1985’s The Breakfast Club, and 1986’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The last good film Hughes directed was 1987’s Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. This film differed from the other three; the main characters here were adults whereas the protagonists in the other three films were teenagers. Seeing this film again after so many years, I’m glad to say that it has held up remarkably well. Out of these four films, this one is my favorite John Hughes film.

The film begins with Neal Page, a marketing executive who’s on a business trip to New York City. Once his work is done, he tries to catch a flight back home to Chicago so that he can be with his wife and kids for Thanksgiving. His attempts to catch a cab to LaGuardia Airport are inadvertently thwarted by Del Griffith, a traveling salesman who later ends up on the same flight as Neal. Their flight gets diverted to Wichita due to a blizzard in Chicago, and the duo end up teaming together in their efforts to reach Chicago. Their odyssey eventually involves a train, a bus, and a rental car as they encounter one bizarre situation after another. Neal and Del quarrel for most of their journey, which ultimately yields some surprises as Thanksgiving approaches.

Steve Martin and John Candy shine as Neal and Del. Martin clearly wasn’t afraid to embrace the not-so-sympathetic Neal. The metaphorical journey taken by Neal allows him to see what kind of man he’s become and even allows for some personal growth. Candy brings warmth and a degree of clumsiness to the lovable Del. Candy’s performance manages to subtly hint at the sadness and loneliness of Del while maintaining his optimism. The biggest scene stealer among the supporting cast is Edie McClurg, who plays a rental car agent in the scene that got the film its R-rating (guess how many times the ‘f’ word was said). Her character never loses her cool, and in a way she’s triumphant at the end of her scene.

Hughes had been inspired by a real disaster of a trip he had gone on before (which actually lasted longer than the trip depicted in the film). Hughes had directed films filled with teen angst up until this point; Planes, Trains, and Automobiles marked a refreshing change of pace for Hughes. This film was the first of his directorial efforts to focus mainly on adult protagonists (family has always been an underlying theme in his films). The somewhat juvenile humor of his previous films is also present here, but not in a manner that takes away from the serious issues that are explored. While it would be nice to see the fabled three-hour version of this film someday, we’ll just have to settle for watching the version that was released (which is definitely worth watching, I must say). You simply cannot go wrong with this film.

Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987) Guest Review

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This guest review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Laura of Film Nerd Blog. Thanks for being a part of this, Lisa! Let’s see what she thinks of Planes, Trains & Automobiles. 🙂

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I’m going to put my cards straight on the table and say it’s really hard not to like Planes, Trains and Automobiles. This classic 80s comedy from the legendary writer-director John Hughes takes us on a journey (do you see what I did, there?), with two very different men, as they do everything they can to get home for Thanksgiving. ​

The two men in question are Neal (Steve Martin), an uptight marketing man, and Del (John Candy) a travelling salesmen, and when their flight fails to reach its destination thanks to bad weather, they must do whatever they can to get home.

Del really isn’t Neal’s kind of person. He’s chatty and jolly and doesn’t really have any concept of personal space or ‘boundaries’ which drives Neal totally crazy. He’s already wound pretty tight and just about everything Del says and does grates on him like nails down a chalkboard. Poor old kind-hearted Del consequently finds himself on the wrong end of Neal’s temper more than once and while we can see that he’s often wounded by Neal’s mean streak, he puts on a smile and continues to be himself.

“You wanna hurt me? Go right ahead if it makes you feel any better. I’m an easy target. Yeah, you’re right, I talk too much. I also listen too much. I could be a cold-hearted cynic like you… but I don’t like to hurt people’s feelings. Well, you think what you want about me; I’m not changing. I like… I like me. My wife likes me. My customers like me. ‘Cause I’m the real article. What you see is what you get.”

Del, in response to Neal’s harsh words

Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a deeply likeable comedy that also manages to successfully include moments of real, emotionally moving drama. It has Hughes’ stamp all over it with the mis-matched protagonists who, on the surface, have nothing in common, but ultimately find some common ground (remember The Breakfast Club?). And as is the case with each Hughes film I’ve seen, there are a number of iconic and memorable speeches, for example the ‘I like me’ speech, the ‘give me a f’ing automobile’ speech and the ‘you know everything is not an anecdote’ speech. The dialogue just zings.

The casting of Steve Martin and John Candy was a stroke of pure genius, and each plays his part to perfection. If only there’d been a sequel where they couldn’t get home for Christmas…