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FILM / Captain Canada's Movie Rodeo / October 2019 / Gabriel Ricard

Image © Walt Disney Company

Image © Walt Disney Company

All I can say is that it took long enough.

It’s probably just me, but I swear Halloween started much, much earlier this year. It could be me just for the fact that I loathed this summer from top to bottom. Yet if memes and people’s general attitudes are to be believed, it’s not just me. The lot of us are ready for a deep fall season. We are ready for Halloween in no uncertain terms.

Which means horror movies on top of more horror movies.

Yes, we can watch horror any ol’ time. If you’re still reading this, I suspect you keep Halloween in your heart all the live long year. All this is true. It’s also true that there is something to be said for watching Trick r Treat when the leaves are almost finished for the year. The quiet energy of the season runs through your favorite movies at this specific point in time. If you love horror movies, then you absolutely fucking love that. I know I do.

Once again, I thought it would be fun to do a column around some of the most recent horror films I’ve seen. We are going back to my long-standing idea that adding new titles to your ongoing horror movie film festival can be fun. Don’t throw out your personal classics. Just consider the following horror movies, which were at least new to me when I saw them over the past few weeks.

And what the hell, find me on Twitter with horror movies that are at least new to you. Tell me if I missed something.

IT: Chapter 2 (2019): C-

Despite being an underwhelming follow-up to the intensely scary 2017 film, It: Chapter Two is still an achievement of visuals and sound. There really isn’t anything wrong with the story. Stephen King’s epic novel of young children who kill a monster, move away, grow up, and return to kill the monster again is adapted from the source material as deeply and professionally as the 2017 entry.

Perhaps, to the point of exhaustion, but at least two of the movie’s near three-hours are a well-acted, atmospheric, and frequently shocking horror movie. The problem with the movie comes down to whether you’re willing to sit through the entire movie to appreciate its better points.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019): B-

As genuinely fucking scary as the Alvin Schwartz-penned children’s stories were to my impressionable young mind growing up, the audiobook was, in my opinion, much scarier. It might have been hearing these grisly, briskly-paced, and darkly-funny stories actually spoken aloud by a voice that matched every creepy beat these tales needed to hit. The nightmares/memories of listening to the audiobook, combined with the original releases, was what I ultimately dared the new film adaptation to top. It couldn’t possibly achieve that.

Even so, the movie often found a frightening compromise between everything about the source material that has scared kids for over thirty years, and the essential touches of a horror movie made in the late 21st century.

It’s rare to find a horror movie you can bring your (10+ is my personal suggestion) your kids to.

The Dead Don’t Die (2019): B-

Jim Jarmusch helming a minimalist zombie comedy that features an aging hipster’s wet dream of actors—I was certainly enchanted—sounds almost too good to be true. I guess that depends on your level of interest in seeing the likes of Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, and Adam Driver kill the undead in a small American town. Iggy Pop plays a zombie? Rosie Perez is in it? Danny Glover and shotguns?

Watch the trailer. Decide how important it is to you that the movie is entertaining in exactly the same way.

The potential problem with this movie depends on how you feel about blunt metaphors for the very real elements bringing about the very real end of the world. It also depends on how traditional your sense of closure is. The movie endeavors to fuck with your expectations in every possible sense. It succeeds no matter what, but it’s easy to understand why that might piss you off.

3 From Hell (2019): B+

The third and (hopefully) final chapter of Rob Zombie’s southwest spaghetti western from hell is a lot fucking better than I imagined going in. It may have helped that I saw it as part of a double feature with The Devil’s Rejects. Released in 2005, The Devil’s Rejects is still regarded as Zombie’s best.

Even then, with a horror movie that even Roger Ebert liked, Zombie still has his detractors. His movies have been criticized as being too derivative, among other complaints. If you didn’t like The Devil’s Rejects, you probably won’t enjoy anything else he’s done. The thought certainly applies here with 3 From Hell, which pits Zombie’s beloved Firefly family (a group of white trash outlaws/murderers) against celebrityhood and loss.

As a writer and director, at least in this movie, Rob Zombie should be praised for letting these characters, particularly the ones played by Sherri Moon Zombie (Rob’s wife, a controversial part of his work in her own right) and Bill Moseley, age with cruel, unpredictable dignity. It gives his characters, including Sid Haig as Captain Spaulding, the opportunity to exist as violent contradictions of what we want them to be.

Hell House LLC III: Lake of Fire (2019): B-

I saw the first Hell House LLC (directed by Stephen Cognetti) around the same time I signed up with Shudder. Surprising me with its many, many creative touches on its story and structure, I watched its sequel immediately afterwards. Both films are found footage horror movies, showcasing the aftermath of opening night at a haunted house that turns out to be a tangible form of a savage howl from the dammed. The haunted house remains consistent in the first and second films. It is a gently beautiful property in upstate New York. The concept of the dammed remains consistent for both entries, as well. These things are effortlessly recreated by Cognetti, as well as the cast and crew for Hell House LLC III.

In other words, if you liked the last two films, this Shudder exclusive will be just fine.

At the same time, and on a budget that somehow seems smaller than the last two, Hell House LLC III suggests that even under the best of circumstances, the ghosts are still going to demand peace.

As far as this movie is concerned, I’m pretty satisfied they have it.

Gabriel Ricard writes, edits, and occasionally acts. His books Love and Quarters and Bondage Night are available through Moran Press, in addition to A Ludicrous Split (Alien Buddha Press) and Clouds of Hungry Dogs (Kleft Jaw Press). He is also a writer, performer, and producer with Belligerent Prom Queen Productions. He lives on a horrible place called Long Island.