Friday, February 19, 2016

Movie Review: The Witch (2015)

Returning from my viewing of The Witch on an unseasonably warm and sunny day in February, it's still hard to shake the feelings with which the film left me. The unlikely horror period piece has been generating a lot of buzz ever since its festival debut, and has now been given a deserving wide release in theaters. You don't have to believe ALL the hype if you don't want to be disappointed, but I really hope that if you see this creepy flick, disappointment will be the last thing on your mind.

In 16th century England, a man and his family are excommunicated from their village for religious reasons. They settle on a small farm of their own in the middle of nowhere, next to a dense forest that is most assuredly hiding something evil. Witchcraft seems to be the main culprit when their infant son goes missing one day, and the mix of desperation and fear causes the family to slowly turn on one another as they suspect one of them may be the one in deals with the Devil.

As The Witch was just released today, I'll forgo my usual spoilers and find other ways to convince you to see this movie. The big name of the game here is dread. The Witch is consumed in this constant feeling of dread. Even in the simplest of scenes, I was completely on edge about what was going to happen next. An early scene involving the titular witch sets the audience up for how far the movie is willing to go, and those visuals stay with you as the story goes on, keeping that tension tight. Sometimes the movie delivers with a break in the tension, but sometimes it doesn't. You never know when something creepy is going to happen or what it might be, and that's what makes The Witch so compelling.

The movie is methodical with its direction, editing, and music to help build this tight atmosphere and keep it going throughout. It savors the use of long takes and holding on a particular shot to pull you into the scene, sometimes offering a crescendo of beautiful, but insanely eerie, music to accompany it. There were times when I was absolutely terrified, even though there wasn't really much happening on the screen. There is just enough information given to propel the story, but there is also a lot held back in The Witch. The insulated location doesn't allow for outside influences, except the belief system of the characters, which only goes downhill as their situation gets worse. Neither they or the audience knows who or what to believe. Adding to the family strife is their spotty food supply, and the possibility of having to send their children off to another family to survive.

This breakdown of the family unit also brings about much of the movie's suspense. The eldest daughter, Thomasin, is the main person targeted for being a witch, as she was with the baby Samuel when he disappeared. Mother Katherine seems to put the blame all on her, but she gets sympathy from her younger brother Caleb and father William - though that doesn't last long. Jonas and Mercy are the young twins who are both adorable and quite creepy at the same time (kids always are). This cast of unknowns excels in each of their roles - they all get a chance to shine and do so brilliantly. And though the language of the time period may make some lines difficult to understand at times (I have developed somewhat of a reliance on subtitles for all films, so I definitely missed them here), it doesn't put any kind of burden on the story. You still get it, so don't worry about that.

If The Witch succeeds at what it's trying to do, there will be some scenes that will shock you, or at least thoroughly freak you out, but it is not all that violent or gory. It is really just intense, and it gets there solely through the atmosphere. Even seemingly innocuous animals like bunnies and goats are made terrifying from the way the movie is shot, and the amazing score only intensifies this all the more. For a truly moody film that expertly ratchets up the tension in almost every scene, see The Witch.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Franchise Review: Leprechaun: Origins (2014)

Another franchise is in the can, fiends, and it's time to say goodbye to the Leprechaun. Well, actually, we said goodbye to him with the last film, because things went in a much different direction for this "origin" story. More on that later, though. I enjoyed the Leprechaun movies a lot - there's no doubt that Leprechaun 3 is my favorite and by far the most fun film of the bunch - but all of them had their own quirky charms. Haha. Charms. Anyway, let's finish things up with Leprechaun: Origins.

Four young friends backpacking through Ireland come to a small village that promises to hold exciting historical sites. Staying overnight in a local cabin, the kids suddenly find themselves the prey of an ancient creature that is out for revenge and especially blood - and it's not the only foe they have to fight as they try to survive the night.

So this is definitely a complete 180-degree turn from all of the other Leprechaun movies in that this is the first film of the series that is a real horror movie. The comedy side has gone almost completely out the window, and this movie takes on a far more darker, serious tone. Warwick Davis is sadly nowhere to be found. Instead, the leprechaun is a growling, bloodthirsty creature that is kind of like an evil Gollum, the Uber Vamps from Buffy, and the crawlers from The Descent put together. The events play out like any similar flick does, in that it is your typical chase movie with the kids getting picked off one by one. And in that regard, it's not bad at all, I have to say. It hits all the right beats and has a few good surprises.

But my overall feelings about Origins are still conflicting. When looking at it as just a horror movie, it's totally fine. I love creature features. And I understand the filmmakers wanting to take the story to a darker place, and use the actual ancient mythology of the leprechaun as the basis for the story. The thing that I kept thinking about after watching it, though, is that that was never what the series was in the first place. Origins doesn't fit at all. It's not like the Child's Play series where the first one was scary and then the series got campier so they tried to bring it back to its creepier roots with Curse of Chucky. The Leprechaun was never scary, it always had that campy appeal, so this sequel could have easily just been another run-of-the-mill creature flick without adding the Leprechaun name to it. Doing so changes the trajectory of a franchise that never seemed like it was heading in this direction at all. But... I still dug it on a certain level. See what I mean? Conflicted.

The four main characters are Sophie, her non-interested boyfriend Ben, and the fun-loving couple Jeni and David. Sophie is the obvious heroine and final girl from the start, and she's good in that role. You get sympathy for her character because Ben is pretty much a dick, a trait that he shows several times in his actions throughout the movie. We don't get to learn hardly anything about Jeni or David but I still liked them. The film is much gorier than I was expecting, and the practical kills and other effects are great looking.

There's really only a few nods to the original films, and I'm not even sure that one of them was a nod, but I like to think that it was. The obvious one is at the end with the line "Fuck you, Lucky Charms!" Got a good chuckle out of that. The other one that might not actually be one was at the beginning when the leprechaun obviously attacked a character and there's a shot of his hand with one finger missing. In all the previous movies, the leprechaun has got a thing for either biting or ripping off people's fingers, but I don't even know if anybody else ever cared about this, so it might just be an homage in my eyes only!

Like I said, as a straight creature feature horror film, Leprechaun: Origins does its job, and does its job pretty well. It doesn't really belong in the Leprechaun franchise, but the fact that it is so different from all the other films makes it easy to separate it from them.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Franchise Review: Leprechaun [6]: Back 2 Tha Hood (2003)

Because we didn't have enough fun with the wee little Irishman duking it out with some people in the hood, we've come back to that place for part six of this crazy odd franchise. I didn't enjoy Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood as much as the previous entry, but the two movies are still pretty similar in that they suffer from some similar problems. They're still way fun, though, don't forget that!

A group of down-on-their-luck friends think they've found the answer to all their problems when one of them, Emily, finds a chest of gold hidden underneath an abandoned construction site. But of course, that gold belongs to the murderous leprechaun who soon returns to take back what is his and kill anybody that stands in his way.

Leprechaun 6 does have a lot of good points that work in its favor. The characters are all sweet, likable, and relatable to the audience even if they are not in the same situation. Actually, the story that is going on between the four principals could easily work in a different movie and be a pretty good crime drama or something like that, no joke. Emily is the lead girl who has ambitions of leaving town to go to school, and she has the support of her friend Lisa, who also seems to aspire to higher things. Rory is the drug dealing playa, but he also just seems like a good guy playing the cards he was dealt. Jamie is the loud clown of the bunch, and I couldn't get over how much he looks like Biz Markie. So there's a good group here that does a good job with what they're given.

And what they're given is unfortunately not much. Leprechaun 6 suffers from a similar problem that I had with Leprechaun 5, where the entire tone of the movie is just off. The titles for both movies alone suggest something that should self-referential and ridiculously fun but neither one of them fully live up to that. Back 2 Tha Hood has several moments of cheesy, tongue-in-cheek humor for sure, but it needed that tone throughout to be much more enjoyable. At times it just feels like the movie is taking itself way too seriously and forgetting that it is Leprechaun-Freaking-SIX. There's really no need to think much beyond that. Another small problem I had was in the change of the characters' motivations with the gold. Once Emily realizes the trouble they are in with the leprechaun, she keeps trying to convince everyone that they should just do what he says and give it back. Yet, every single time they are confronted with the leprechaun and have the gold in their hands, they keep running away from him instead of giving him the gold! That got a little frustrating after watching it happen a few times.

Those humorous moments that I mentioned before are really great when they come along, and are some of the most enjoyable parts of the movie. Probably the best exchange of dialogue is between Jamie, Rory and later on this white guy who comes to buy drugs from Rory. Jamie and Rory have a talk about how the word "nigga" has been replaced by "ninja" and that they should start calling each other ninja. Then the white guy enters the conversation and tries to prove how "down" he is by calling Rory "my nigga" - and there is literally the sound of a tire screeching in the background as everybody stops in shock, even the background actors. Kind of genius, if you ask me. Other good moments include the scene of the lep smoking a bong (hey, you knew they were going to have a scene like that again!) and then stabbing a guy with said bong; and the encounter with the cops where one winds up getting his entire leg ripped off. A bit more humor comes from the fact that the leprechaun just keeps getting his ass kicked through the whole movie by pretty much everyone, and the reactions that Warwick Davis gives for these scenes are priceless. This series would most definitely not be the same without him, as I'm everybody would have been severely disappointed to see another person try to step in his role. We love you, Warwick!

And that's really all she wrote, folks. Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood is a nice try, but I still can't help but feel that this movie would have been more successful if they had just committed to one tone and ran with it. Otherwise, the movie feels very disjointed at times. Next up is the origin story that isn't really an origin story (or so I've heard)! Can't wait!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Franchise Review: Leprechaun [5] in the Hood (2000)

Rap it out with me, folks: "Lep in the hood, come to do no good/Lep in the hood, come to do no good/Lep in the hood, Come. To. Do. No. Good!" I was actually pretty excited to be reacquainted with Leprechaun 5 recently, because my memories of it were once again sketchy, and the title alone practically guarantees a good time. I definitely got something a little unexpected with this sequel, which actually endeared me to it a lot more.

The movie starts out in the obvious 1970s (afros and platforms for the win!) as Ice-T and a crony follow a map to the leprechaun's gold, but the only thing Ice-T wants is the magical flute. Years later, Ice-T has the leprechaun imprisoned in his statue state, and a group of wanna-be rappers accidentally unleash the terror when they break into his office and remove his necklace. Pot-smoking and rapping hijinks ensue.

Truthfully, I kinda dug this installment quite a bit, because of the cool character choices and despite the stylistic flaws. For one, I loved our three main guys - Postmaster P, Stray Bullet, and Butch. They are so completely lovable, guys, and I liked the little twist that they put on their characters by making them rappers who want to put out a positive message, and that they are not serious gangsters. They're good guys and they're smart guys, and they have cute relationships with the other people in their neighborhood, like Miss Fontaine the transvestite and Chow the pawn shop owner. Ice-T is the former pimp turned hip-hop producer Mack Daddy and he plays that role just it sounds. It kind of sucked because I turned on a Law and Order: SVU marathon right after watching Leprechaun 5, and I've always loved Ice-T on that show, but I don't think I can ever watch it the same way again.

A cool thing that they did with the story here again with this movie was to introduce something new so that the whole movie would not just be the leprechaun chasing after these guys because they stole his gold. The flute that Mack Daddy stole in the beginning is a magical flute that hypnotizes people and makes them think the person with the flute is more talented than they really are or something. It's obviously helped him with his success, and the boys discover its power too. Really, they are so cute: All the boys want is to get their rap career off the ground and win this contest in Las Vegas. So anyway, you have both Mack Daddy and the leprechaun coming after them for the flute, and all the moral quandaries and selfishness and bullshit that they have to go through is kind of the incentive for the whole movie.

I think what surprised me the most was how freaking serious Leprechaun 5 gets at times. The tone is often completely different from what you would think it would be from a movie about the leprechaun dealing with pimps and rappers. The dialogue goes along with the campy nature of the movie, with more "fuck"s than I could count, and some of the situations, but there is something off about the whole way the movie presents itself. I think it's really the music and the editing that throws things off. There are some odd editing choices in parts where scenes just kind of end or fade out at weird times, like they didn't know how to finish the scene or something. The movie is really slow, and probably would have played out a lot better if it was tighter and faster. Adding to the serious tone, Warwick Davis is actually pretty freaky sometimes. A couple of times, he would give these facial expressions that were way more sinister than he's been before.

But of course, this wouldn't be a Leprechaun movie if there wasn't some crazy shit in it. The kills are pretty meh, but I was happy to see the leprechaun continue his obsession with fingers by ripping off one of Mack Daddy's fingers to take his gold ring. There was only one really good kill where the leprechaun blows a big hole through a guy's body. As for the weird stuff, they include the whole thing with Miss Fontaine, who is the only person in the series who sees the leprechaun and her first impression is to... want to fuck him? Whuh? There's a funny rap performance in a church where Coolio randomly walks in; there's the zombie flygirls with glowing green eyes; and there's the part where Post and Butch have to dress in drag in order to infiltrate the leprechaun's pad (which is also a weirdly serious scene). All this stuff is funny, but again, it would have played out a lot more effectively if the tone of the movie had been in the right place.

So this was a different experience than I thought I was going to get with Leprechaun in the Hood, but I don't know - it worked for me on some level. The movie is totally scatterbrained tonally, but I really like the main characters and that gets a big plus.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

I gots me a Twitter account...

In an effort to continue being perpetually late to every new trend in the world, I finally broke down the other day and signed up on Twitter. Mostly I just did it because I was getting a little annoyed with being left out on stuff that people only do on Twitter, and I'd be over in the corner grumble-grumbling, saying "But I don't have a Twitter account and I don't WANT one!" So now I have one and I feel more a part of things.

I also like to talk to my peeps in the horror world and just in the few days that I've had the account, I've already had little exchanges with two different filmmakers that I like and that is just freaking weird and awesome at the same time.

Anyway, if any of you peeps want to chill with me on Twitter, pretty much all variations of The Girl Who Loves Horror handle was taken so I just had to go with my name -- @micheleneggen, but my name still appears at GirlWhoLovesHorror so I got the blog worked in there some way! Tweet away, horror fiends!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Franchise Review: Leprechaun 4: In Space (1997)

Well, I mean... It's all pretty much right there in the title, guys. The leprechaun. In space. Not exactly my idea of a very logical step in this particular franchise, but maybe they just figured, Fuck it! Let's do it! And actually, I'm kind of glad. Because if I wasn't doing these reviews, I might not have ever bothered with Leprechaun 4: In Space, and then I would never have been introduced to its brand of cheesy. And cheese is like one of my favorite things ever.

The leprechaun is back and this time he has kidnapped the beautiful Princess Zarina, so that he may wed her and usurp her father as king of her home planet. However, a small group of Marines have been sent to destroy the leprechaun (thinking he is some kind of alien). They are joined by their commander, the elusive Dr. Mittenhand; his plucky assistant, and a pretty biologist tagging along to collect any alien samples they come across. Things are about to get crazy on this boat.

Okay, first off - don't ask me how or why the leprechaun is in space. Don't ask me how he has managed to come back in any of these movies thus far after being destroyed in the previous one because the only explanation they come up with to answer that is that he is "eternal." I guess after he gets blown up at the end of these movies, he just, like... re-materializes somewhere else? Sure, let's go with that. Anyway, he's in space now. He still cares about his gold, but now it seems like he wants a little power, too, because he wants to be king of some ridiculous made-up planet. He's not into this marriage for love, that's for sure.

As for our Marines, they are your typical rag-tag group of hot dudes and one chick (there's always just ONE chick), under the rule of a Platoon-style sergeant known as just Sergeant. I started calling him Metal Head just because of the obvious fact that half of his head is covered by a steel plate, and found it absolutely hilarious when I saw that the actor is actually credited as "Metal Head." What's also absolutely hilarious are his cross-dressing scenes later in the movie. You might want to watch the movie just for that. That and Mittenspider, but we'll get to that. Anyway, the only other recognizable face to me (besides Warwick Davis, of course - always a sport for returning!) was Jessica Collins as Dr. Tina, the scientist who also ends up being really hot and brave and kicks a lot of ass. And NO, I don't know her from The Young and the Restless. I know her from Nip/Tuck.

Oh man, so much craziness to mention. How about when the leprechaun gets blown up (as usual) at the beginning of the film? Of course that's not the end of him, because one of the Marines pisses on his body, and something seriously wicked happens because when the Marine is hooking up with the female Marine, he starts to have problems with his junk, and that problem is the full-grown leprechaun emerging out of his body... out of his junk. Kinda reminds me of the birth of Venus - only I'm not really sure which is the weirder story out of those two. For the climax, the leprechaun gets to be a big boy when one of those super-techy futuristic laser beam machines causes him to grow exponentially. But then all he does is fumble around the cargo bay for awhile instead of really taking advantage of the situation, so that was kind of disappointing. What wasn't disappointing was seeing the leprechaun with a light saber, albeit briefly, or seeing Harold (the pervy lab assistant) getting his head smushed flat with a silver serving tray. Almost had one of those moments where soda came flying out of my nose on that one.

So Dr. Mittenhand gets his own paragraph. This guy is awesome. At first I just liked him because he had a hilarious accent with hilarious acting to match, but then he got way more awesome when it was revealed that he is part cyborg, in a way. He's literally only a head and shoulders and one arm, with liquids and other unseen stuff keeping the rest of him alive and functioning. When Mittenhand (second best name ever, by the way, behind Bugenhagen) finds out that Princess Zarina's DNA has powers of rejuvenation he of course decides to try it on himself. But the leprechaun decides to play and adds a spider and a scorpion to the DNA, then injects into Mittenhand. He then becomes... the Mittenspider! Just imagine a much larger version of the Brundlefly and with more legs and the scorpion tail with these nasty little white sacs all over it. Did not see that development coming, but it definitely made the movie a lot more interesting than I was expecting it to be.

It all ends (sorry for all the spoilers, but that's kind of what I do) with the giant leprechaun getting sucked out into space and exploding again and then the giant leprechaun's hand flips off our remaining survivors through the space ship window. Leprechaun 4: In Space is crazy, silly, and weird, and I really wouldn't have it any other way. Can't wait to go into da hood with the next two movies!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Some More Stuff I've Been Writing at Wicked Horror

Back in January, I shared with you guys some of the articles I have written over at the other site I write for, Wicked Horror, and because it's been almost a year since I've done that, I thought it was time for round two! So if any of these articles strike your fancy, please head over to Wicked Horror and let me know what you think!

First up, my feature titled Noteworthy Heroines of Horror has definitely grown. This feature allows me to spotlight some of my favorite female characters in horror films, who are not really the typical "final girls" that you see pop up in people's top ten lists or whatever, as the description explains. They are just ones that seem to be somewhat underappreciated and this is my chance to say why they are the best! Among these fabulous females are...

Jessie, from Wrong Turn
Rhonda, from Tremors
Lisa, from Red Eye
Erin, from You're Next
Sara, from House on Haunted Hill
Selena, from 28 Days Later
Stretch, from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
Sam, from Eight Legged Freaks
Sarah, from The Descent
Mary, from American Mary
Buffy, from Buffy, the Vampire Slayer
Marybeth, from the Hatchet series
Donna, from Cujo

More to come with that feature!

I also got to do two amazing interviews with equally amazing people for WH. The first one was with Camden Toy, whose name I did not know before but definitely do now! He played several villains on the greatest TV show of all time, Buffy the Vampire Slayer! So it was definitely an honor to talk to him. Read the interview below to find all about what it was like playing one of the Gentlemen, the Gnarl demon, the Ubervamp, and the Prince of Lies!

Exclusive Interview with Camden Toy: A Buffy Retrospective

And I've shared this one before, but in case you missed it, I also interviewed director Adam Green from the Hatchet series, Frozen, and Holliston! This one was truly amazing because as I've also shared before, Adam has been a big inspiration to me lately.

Exclusive Interview: Adam Green Talks Horrified! and the Return of Holliston

I also delved into some controversial topics with these two pieces for WH...

In Defense of Rape-Revenge Films - What?! A girl can "like" these movies? Yes, they can and here's why I do.

The Misidentification of Misogyny in Horror Films

Then there were these other fun articles on some topics that are of great interest to me.

Why Hannibal and Bates Motel Work So Well - Two great television shows with similar premises. I look at why they have been so successful when they maybe shouldn't be on paper. I also did recaps for each episode of season three of Hannibal!
And OHMIGOD I just realized that I never finished the second season of Bates Motel. CRAP!

Six Great Horror Filmmaking Duos - Pretty self-explanatory.

Why I Stopped Using the Phrase "Guilty Pleasure" - A very important idea for horror fans, I think! STOP CALLING MOVIES "GUILTY PLEASURES"!!!

And just in time for this fabulous Halloween season, I (and all the other writers at WH) made a list of my top five favorite films to watch during the holiday. They are really just my top five favorite horror films of all time, but I think Halloween is a great time to catch up on the favorites. Of course, I also watch stuff like Halloween, Trick 'r Treat, Hocus Pocus, etc.

Michele's Top 5 Films to Watch on Halloween

But I'm definitely not done with Wicked Horror! Right now I'm in the middle of reviewing the latest batch of After Dark Horrorfest's 8 Films to Die For (which is back after five years!), and the first two reviews of those are up!

Review: 8 Films to Die For - Murder in the Dark
Review: 8 Films to Die For - The Wicked Within

So if you're even the least bit curious about what other kind of shenanigans I get up to outside of the reviews I do on here, please check out any of the articles above. I know I'm a shameless self-promoter but, hey, somebody's got to do it! And I'm actually very proud of pretty much all of these pieces, and when you're proud of something, you want to share it.

In closing...

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Short and Sweet: Over My Dead Body

I'm really intrigued by the influx of sorts lately of rom-zom-coms. Though the zom-com has worked for years in many different movies, adding romance actually seems like a natural progression, if only because it adds to comedy element. A cute example of this is a short film sent to me by producer Alrik Bursell called "Over My Dead Body," from filmmaker Timothy Plain.

In it, a woman is home waiting for her blind date to arrive for dinner, and she's not so thrilled about the fact that he's a zombie. With one location, two great actors, and a simple, but really well-written script, this short definitely works. The comedic timing is on point from both leads, and the conversation they have works well as an awkward first date conversation... and an awkward you're-a-zombie-and-I-don't-know-how-to-deal-with-that conversation. Really funny and cute. The tone also works well at being comedic and sort of serious at the same time, which was nice to see. There's a bit of a lull in the last minute or so, but then the final shot brings it all back and had me laughing again. Take six minutes and watch "Over My Dead Body" for yourself right now!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Franchise Review: Leprechaun 3 (1995)

The leprechaun in Vegas, baby! Two sequels in and we're still having a great time with the green guy and his whacky exploits. To show that direct-to-video doesn't really mean squat, I liked this entry a lot more than the previous one, and it's maybe even a bit more fun than the first film. But that one still has the pogo stick death, so it can't be dethroned just yet. Anyway, let's see what kind of trouble a leprechaun can cause in Sin City.

A pawn shop owner buys a statue of the leprechaun and tries to take his gold. But by removing the protective medallion from his neck, he brings the leprechaun back to life to continue his quest of protecting his gold from greedy humans. Meanwhile, young Scott is traveling through Vegas when he meets beautiful magician's assistant Tammy, and the two of them get tangled up with the devious and relentless leprechaun.

When you look at how things play out in Leprechaun 3, the plot is full of all these different characters coming in and out of each other's storylines and scenes and changing things around at just the last second. But surprisingly, director Brian Trenchard-Smith (who would also direct the next entry in the series) and the editing make everything all work out and make sense. The movie then becomes a fun series of comedic mishaps and run-ins with the leprechaun, while still providing the audience with more information that adds to the mythology of the leprechaun. However, they do go against one established rule: in the previous films, if a mortal got a hold of the leprechaun's gold, he or she was given three wishes. In this movie, the mortal gets one wish for every piece of gold that he or she was able to take.

This setup, though not in line with the story's continuity, actually works really well for Leprechaun 3, especially because it is set in Las Vegas. Scott and Tammy have their adorable meet-cute at the beginning of the film, and they are the nice, good people in the movie that we are supposed to be rooting for. Everybody else is a greedy, sleazy fuck. These people include the lecherous Mitch; the desperate Loretta; and the deluded Fazio. Of course the best characters ever are Arthur, the guy Mitch owes money to, and Tony, Arthur's muscle. Oh wow, these guys were hilarious. Let me just say that at one point, they have an entire conversation about underwear

Leprechaun 3 actually seems to be making some societal comments, if that doesn't seem weird. The people who take the leprechaun's gold are seen as more of the enemies than the leprechaun is. So then there is a lot to say about the greed of humans, again enhanced by the fact that the movie is set in Vegas, where greed and excess is rampant. Strangely, there are also some jabs at the health care industry. This comes up when Mitch ask Arthur what he wants, and Arthur says jokingly that he wants everyone in America to have health insurance. It comes up again when Tammy takes Scott to the hospital and the weirdo doctor and nurse ask him the most "important" questions - Do you have health insurance? Then they find out how much money he has and order a bunch of useless tests. I don't know what any of this has to do with Leprechaun, but it was interesting.
Something else that I've noticed about all the movies so far in regards to the death scenes is that they are very minimal, save for one. All of the kills are generally bloodless and tame, very comedic usually. But then there's that one scene that just comes completely out of nowhere and is more graphic than all of the other deaths put together. In the first one, it was the leprechaun melting and getting blown up at the end; then in part 2, it was the leprechaun exploding at the end. Now though, the exciting thing doesn't happen to the leprechaun, but rather to poor Caroline Williams. She wishes to be young and sexy and beautiful again, which she does get to enjoy for a little while. But the leprechaun is mad that she doesn't have his coin, so he makes her lips, breasts, and butt get bigger and bigger until finally, she is the one that explodes and it is hilarious. Fazio's death comes close in the extreme department when he is sawed in half on stage at his own magic show, but really... nothing beats an explosion.

I know I say this all the time, but there's a bunch of other stuff that I could've mentioned about Leprechaun 3 - dude, Scott starts turning into a leprechaun! - but I can't have this go on forever. Everything about it is just so much fun, and the movie is so self-aware that I really couldn't help but love it. It is directed well, when the plot might have been a mess in less capable hands. I love Caroline Williams, I love Arthur and Tony, and I kind of really love this movie. It absolutely fits in with the series and it's a good time. Three cherries for this one!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Franchise Review: Leprechaun 2 (1994)

Leprechaun 2 is the next in what I'm guessing will be a long line of weird movies in this franchise. But I think I knew that before I signed myself up to do this so I have no one to blame but myself. The movie is a bit erratic and again odd, but it's still kinda fun. However, it's also one of those movies where once is enough and you really don't need to see it again.

A thousand years ago, the nasty little leprechaun was thwarted out of getting his bride by his slave William O'Day. But the green guy put a curse on O'Day that in another thousand years he would wed someone in his bloodline. So now he's back in present day Los Angeles, seeking out young Bridget to take for his wife, and she and her boyfriend Cody - who stole one of the leprechaun's gold coins - must figure out a way to save both of themselves.

So this was definitely an interesting new place to take the Leprechaun story. I will say that it was a really good idea for the writer to give the leprechaun a different mission this time around rather than just getting his gold back, which we just saw in the first film. It's icky to think about, especially the mentions of the "wedding night" and making little leprechaun babies, but I guess everybody needs love. The setting in Los Angeles is cool, too, but they don't really take much advantage of it - definitely not in a Jason Takes Manhattan way, which might have actually been fun. Instead, we get random settings at a bar, a go-kart place, and the leprechaun's home inside a tree.

One thing that's cool to see when you're watching the movie now is all the different little cameos that pop up in the film. In one of the first scenes, Clint Howard and Kimmy Robertson (whose name I did not know until now, but whose face I've seen everywhere) play a couple of tourists; Tommy Cox of Bad Santa shows up at the bar; and perhaps most hilariously, Michael McDonald from MadTV as the guy in the espresso bar. Our main cast is a couple of unknowns who are mostly pretty good, but then again, this is Leprechaun 2 so don't look to be particularly wowed by any of the performances or anything. Shevonne Durkin is pretty cute at Bridget, and Charlie Heath as Cody is the perfect boyfriend who would do anything to save the sweet girl of his dreams. Warwick Davis returns and he's of course just as glorious as ever.

Cody's story is that he is in business with his alcoholic uncle Morty and the two of them run a sham tourist attraction called Darkside Tours. They travel to various death houses in LA, one of them being the remains of Harry Houdini's place, where the leprechaun has made his home inside the tree. Cody and Morty are therefore very good at conning and tricking people, just like the leprechaun is, so this makes for a good setup for some trickery that happens as the plot moves along. One of these tricks is getting the leprechaun drunk, because apparently they can't hold their liquor, so that's a funny and weird scene, especially with all the other little people at the bar celebrating St. Patty's Day cheering the leprechaun on, chanting "One of us, one of us!" Bit creepy. Other than that, most of the movie is just a long cat-and-mouse chase where the leprechaun shows up, the characters get away, they get to a new place, and the leprechaun shows up again. Once everybody else is dead, it's just Cody and Bridget in his treehouse where they run around for a while and keep getting lost. It's not terribly exciting.

Though there's nothing as awesome as the pogo stick death, Leprechaun 2 has its killing moments here and there that you won't find in many other horror films. After Morty gets him drunk at the bar, the leprechaun heads to a coffee shop to sober up, and McDonald is very rude and annoying so of course he has to die. He gets his hands impaled to the table and then dies by getting a blast of steam from the espresso machine in his face. Death by espresso machine! This is why I love horror movies. Other interesting moments are the guy who gets his finger ripped off so the leprechaun can take his gold ring ("Finger lickin' good!"); when Morty makes the fatal mistake of wishing that he had the leprechaun's gold and the pot grows inside his stomach; and the leprechaun's own death at the end when he is stabbed by wrought iron (the only thing that can hurt him) and then freaking explodes. Movies should always end with somebody exploding, I say. The guy who puts his face into the spinning blades of a lawnmower would have been cool too if they had shown any of it.

Leprechaun 2 is a movie that's fun for the moment, but it's not the best kind of sequel there is. There's nothing particular memorable about any part of it - the characters, the kills, the plot. It's not hard to see why Leprechaun 2 was the last movie of the series to be released theatrically (thanks, Wiki) but they obviously continued on with more films, so bring 'em on!